As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Reintroduction Efforts Bring the Hihi Back to Mainland New Zealand

The Hihi, a bird species native to New Zealand, went extinct locally in the 1800s, but new reintroduction techniques are restoring their population.
The Hihi (Notiomystis cincta), a bird species once native to New Zealand, was driven locally extinct on mainland New Zealand in the 1880s. The leading threat this species faced came from the introduction of invasive rats, feral dogs, and cats. Now, after over 100 years, there is renewed hope for the native Hihi as a reintroduction project within Rotokare Scenic Reserve is restoring them to their rightful home once again.  
Researchers understand that when reintroducing a species in a given location, it will take them time to adjust. They will likely move around a fair amount before settling in a location that best suits them. In fact, wildlife managers tasked with monitoring the progress of the Hihi reintroduction suspected it would take females about four weeks to settle into a breeding territory. Oliver Metcalf, a doctoral student involved in the project commented:
We found the Hihi were initially pretty random in their movements around Rotokare, as you would expect from birds exploring a new home, but towards the end of the study they had settled down onto territories, and they preferred to have territories in areas close to water.”
Researchers are using novel methods in acoustic monitoring that allow them to track the ways the Hihi is moving across time and space without having to track each animal individually. Monitoring the reintroduction as it unfolds requires acoustic recording devices to monitor the species in the wild. These techniques are being used to get a sense of how the Hihi are settling in and what breeding locations they prefer. This new method of monitoring has the potential to be less intrusive to the species being monitored as well as more cost effective in the long term. Not only this, it makes monitoring much simpler. If an animal is particularly small or cryptic, tracking each animal individually can be an incredibly daunting task for researchers.

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