A native red-crowned parakeet — or kakariki — has been photographed on the Far North mainland for the first time in about 50 years.

The bright green and red bird was spotted by Far North Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes as it was resting in branches just half a metre from her window.

"I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was special. It was just sitting on a branch, scratching its head and hanging out, so I tiptoed out the room and got my camera."

Ms McInnes took the photo last week while she was house-sitting at a bush-clad School Rd property, then posted it on Facebook where it was quickly identified.


Kakariki had been absent from the Far North for decades but in June last year conservation group Project Island Song released 40 of the birds on Moturua, a pest-free island in the eastern Bay of Islands.

Project co-ordinator Richard Robbins said, going by the photo and the bird's behaviour, there was a "reasonably high" chance it was a juvenile that had hatched on Moturua in spring.

Before the reintroduction, kakariki occasionally visited the Bay of Islands but their prospects on the mainland was dismal due to predation and the difficulty of finding a mate at such low population densities.

In recent years, however, their prospects had improved due to pest control. The kakariki was spotted in an area of "very effective" pest management by community group Bay Bush Action, Mr Robbins said.

Meanwhile it appeared the birds released on the island had a good breeding season. Late last month motion-activated cameras had captured the first island-hatched fledglings feeding with their parents.

You're on candid camera: Video of the first fledglings hatched on Moturua Island making the most of a millet-seed feeding station:

It was clear they had been hatched on the island because, unlike the birds translocated from Hauturu (Little Barrier), they had no leg bands.

Unlike other species released on to the islands as part of Project Island Song kakariki were able to fly away, but at least 35 were still on Moturua.

''We always knew some of the kakariki would either visit or disperse to the mainland, and over time once the islands are full of kakariki we hope that they will also become a common sight on the mainland too,'' Mr Robbins said.

It was vital, however, that a self-sustaining population established itself on the islands first. Project Island Song volunteers had set up feeding stations and nesting boxes on Moturua to encourage the birds to stay.