A Te Puke woman and her son are responsible for the elimination of a major threat to our kiwifruit in the form of a bird notorious for decemating crops and attacking other bird species.

Pat West said she and her son Don had been hearing the warble of an unusual bird in their neighbourhood for a couple of weeks before spotting the red-vented bulbul on May 9.

"We knew it sounded quite different from any types of birds flying around in the area. I had trained birds to talk over the years. This bird's call sounded to me like it was trying to talk, so I initially thought it might have escaped from someone's private aviary.

"My son got his binoculars out so he was able to get a closer look at the strange bird which had been hanging around high up an oak tree at the end of our street," she said.


Mrs West said using her bird book she was able to identify what species it was, then used her cellphone to make contact with the Ministry of Primary Industries through its pest hotline.

She said the ministry immediately responded and local Conservation Department operations ranger Karl McCarthy was on the case within hours.

"When Karl arrived he used his mobile phone to call out to the bird which flew down from the tree and landed on the powerlines. He then called out to it again and as it came closer he shot it."

Mrs West said it was all over within 15 minutes.

"It's a beautiful-looking bird. It's a shame that it's such a destructive little bird which poses a huge threat to our kiwifruit industry."

Mrs West said if the bird had been allowed to live and breed, it could have been devastating for the agriculture and kiwifruit industries.

"It's the last thing we need," she said.

Mrs West said unlike some other birds, the red-vented bulbul breeds all year round.

Red-vented bulbuls are known to cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops and aggressively chase and attack other birds.

It feeds on native fruits, berries, insects, flower nectar, seeds and buds.

Mr McCarthy said the Red-vented bulbul was one of the top 100 invasive organisms in the world.

"It's a huge concern to have not only have reports of possible sightings but find a live bird.

"Pat and Don did a really excellent job in reporting this sighting straight away." Mr McCarthy said that, previously, the Ministry of Primary Industries had offered a $1000 reward for information leading to the capture of this pest and the Wests may be up for a reward.