The oystercatcher chicks born smack dab in the middle of one of the country's most popular beaches in summer are doing great - though they are not completely out of harm's way yet.

The two oystercatcher birds, laid and hatched on Mount Maunganui Main Beach, are still three to four weeks away from spreading their wings and leaving the nest for good.

Oh hello baby oystercatcher. Photo/Andrew Warner
Oh hello baby oystercatcher. Photo/Andrew Warner

"At this point they are doing well, but they are still in the middle of a very dangerous zone," said Western Bay Wildlife Trust's Julia Graham.

"They are vulnerable. They are mobile but can't fly yet."


She stressed the importance of keeping dogs away from the beach.

Read more: Nesting birds take up prime Mount Maunganui beach spot

"The area is completely dog free, not on leashes. It means no dogs allowed anywhere near that front bit of beach and we really hope people listen."

The birds were laid on the beach during December, just when the beach was starting to become popular. They hatched just after the New Year.

The birds were mobile and since being born had endured a national volleyball tournament and Ironman competition being run on the beach.

"They went to the far end of the beach and hid among the rocks," Ms Graham said.

The birds were roaming all over the beach, checking out the grassy area, the campgrounds and rocks but always returned to their fenced off sandbags - put in place when they were just wee eggs to guard them from impending king tides.

The recent hot weather was not unbearable for the happy family, Ms Graham said.

Oystercatcher family nest sits right in the middle of the popular beach. Can you spot the chicks? Photo/Andrew Warner
Oystercatcher family nest sits right in the middle of the popular beach. Can you spot the chicks? Photo/Andrew Warner

"Bird feathers are just incredibly designed. They keep them cool when it's hot and hot when it's cool - hence the reason everyone wants a feather down pillow or duvet."

However, the hot weather could make them sluggish as they conserved energy and finding fresh water could prove difficult.

"Trying to run away from people chasing them would really have an impact on them if the heat continues," she said.

There was plenty of shade from rocks or pohutakawa and the birds always had the option of frolicking in the ocean, just as humans do, to cool off.

Ms Graham said her mother named the chicks Pearl and Ruby. Pearl because of oysters and Ruby because of their beautiful orange-red beaks.

- Variable oyster catchers breed most commonly on sandy beaches, sandspits and in dunes
- Breeding success of variable oystercatchers is often low, with main causes of failure being predation of eggs or chicks by predators, flooding of nests by big tides and disturbance from human recreation
- No specific conservation measures are undertaken but some birds on the east coast of the North Island benefit from protection programmes for dotterels and fairy terns.