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Nesting season rolls around for endangered birds

Monday 5 December, 2022

If you’re heading to a beach or river this summer please watch out for dotterel/tūturiwhatu nests and give them a wide berth.

It’s estimated there are only 2075 of the endemic birds left and Tairāwhiti is very lucky to have a population of them, says Department of Conservation (DOC) Biodiversity Ranger Jamie Quirk.

DOC together with Gisborne District Council asks everyone to avoid nesting sites this summer.

“Please give the birds space and keep an eye on your dogs,” says Mr Quirk.

The birds can nest anywhere between the base of sand dunes and the high tide mark, on riverbeds and at the mouths of streams.

“Many of the birds are now nesting with chicks and are at risk of being disturbed.

“Their nests can be well-camouflaged, and the eggs are very vulnerable to being found by dogs, trampled on by people or being run over by cars/quad bikes.”

Help protect these endangered birds by keeping:

  • Below the high tide mark
  • Distance from the nests
  • On marked tracks and paths wherever possible
  • Dogs on a leash
  • Vehicles off beaches and sandspits.

The breeding season of the dotterel/tūturiwhatu is from September to February.

It is mostly pale-grey/brown on its back with an off-white under which becomes a rusty-orange colour in winter and spring. The males are generally darker than the females.

They have a characteristic chip, which is often heard before they are seen, with the call rate increasing as threat levels rise.

For more information go to the DOC website and New Zealand Birds Online website.

Dotterel Tūturiwhatu