Plea to let wood pigeons nest in peace

By Lindy Laird


Allowing native birds to "nest in peace" is the catch-cry Bay Bush Action Trust - a volunteer pest control group operating in the Opua State Forest near Paihia.

Brad Windust, trustee and a volunteer forthe group, said wood pigeons - also called kukupa in Northland and kereru elsewhere in New Zealand - lay a single egg in a flimsy nest of twigs.

"At this time of the year they are very vulnerable and will be constantly harassed and killed by possums, stoats, cats and rats in areas where there is no pest control."

He wants people to get involved in predator control to get the birds through this risky period.

A study by Ngati Hine and Landcare Research monitored seven wood pigeon nests in a Northland forest. No chicks survived but in the following year, after predator control, all chicks survived in all the nests.

"It would be great if everybody had a rat, possum and stoat trap at the bottom of their garden," Mr Windust said. "It's really easy and the rewards can be seen within a few breeding cycles."

Meanwhile, the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre has nine pigeons chicks in its care, director Robert Webb said.

"A pigeon makes a silly nest, it's only a few sticks. If a bit of a wind comes up or the nest falls apart the baby has enough feathers to act like a parachute and it kind of floats down to the ground.

"It can't fly yet so it walks around and that's when they become prey for cats, rats and stoats."

He advised anyone finding a kukupa chick on the ground to take it to the centre if they couldn't return it to a nest because it would not survive without intervention. About 70 older wood pigeon each year are brought into the centre after hitting windows, Mr Webb said.

Kukupa live on native tree berries and, by dispersing the seeds, are a major contributor to the regeneration of forests.

- Northern Advocate

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