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Nelson Newsletter

November 20th, 2022

Download the latest Nelson newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here 

Otago Newsletter

November 20th, 2022

Download the latest Otago newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here 

First dedicated Seabird Surveys for Samoa

November 18th, 2022

A research team from Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Samoa Conservation Society and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, accompanied by seabird expert Chris Gaskin, undertook a seabird survey on Nuútele Island, Samoa.

Read more about their findings here

This project was supported by the Pacific Island Bird Conservation and Research Fund (PIBCRF)

Give the gift of birds this Christmas

November 18th, 2022

Are you looking for a special gift to give this Christmas?

You can gift someone an annual Birds New Zealand subscription for just $1.50 a week to help foster a lifetime appreciation of birds.

Just choose a subscription plan and send an email to and we will advise how to make the payment. We will then send you the Gift Voucher.

New members receive a free branded lens cloth – while stocks last!

Tara Photography Competition

November 18th, 2022

Help us find out what White-fronted terns are eating and take part in this exciting photographic competition!

Details are available at

Submit your entries before 10 February 2023!

South Auckland Newsletter

November 18th, 2022

Download the latest South Auckland newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here

Canterbury Newsletter

November 18th, 2022

Download the latest Canterbury newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here

Historical Publications – now available Online 

November 1st, 2022

Check out our new Historical Publications page, which now includes the

Annotated Index to Some Early New Zealand Bird Literature by H. C. Oliver (1968)

and an Introduction to the Index

Beach Patrol Submissions – now easier!

October 29th, 2022

With a new user-friendly design and modern look, the Beach Patrol Scheme now has an online submission facility, which makes recording easy!

Check out the new Beach Patrol Scheme page and online submission form

Read more about the new Beach Patrol Scheme, its history and objectives here

Gisborne Atlas Expedition – Postponed

October 29th, 2022

The Gisborne Atlas Expedition, scheduled for November 2022, has been postponed to February 2023. Final dates will be available soon.

Why do seabirds die?

October 18th, 2022

Initial analysis from a recent study into the cause of seabird deaths, based on injured birds from the Hauraki Gulf, suggests the main cause to be head trauma, followed closely by internal bleeding or a combination of both. These are the types of injuries consistent with that of groundings and collisions from light pollution as many seabirds have been documented to be disorientated by lights and end up landing on the ground and/or colliding with structures. The research, using dissections and necropsies, has helped provide some evidence that seabird groundings from light pollution can be fatal for many seabirds. This information can be used for future planning to reduce light pollution in New Zealand cities, and internationally.

A summary article of this project is available here

This research by Agustina Dominguez and Ariel-Micaiah Heswall was supported by the Birds New Zealand Research Fund.

New method for identifying bones

October 18th, 2022

Recent research on bird bone shape and taxonomic ID has provided a new method for identifying isolated long bones using shape combined with landmark- and pseudolandmark-(landmark free) based classification analysis. The 3D shape-based classification method was applied to a case study of seabird bones belonging to penguins and tubenosed birds, where order- and family-level predictions of taxonomic identities were achieved with 100% accuracy. This work has now been published in Journal of Archaeological Science and a summary article is available here.

This MSc research by Emma Holvast was supported by a David Medway Scholarship grant.

Wellington Newsletter

October 5th, 2022

Download the latest Wellington newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here 

New Zealand gains two more endemic bird species

October 4th, 2022

Recent analyses by Te Papa revealed several surprises that affect the conservation significance of prion populations on the Chatham Islands in particular, and also in the New Zealand subantarctic region as a whole!
The key findings were:

  • The ‘fulmar prions’ from the Chatham Islands are not closely related to the true fulmar prions that breed on the Bounty Islands and Snares Islands (Western Chain), and are more closely related to fairy prions. As they breed in close proximity to fairy prions (on Mangere Island and the Murumurus), we recommend that the prions that breed on The Pyramid and the Forty Fours be recognised as a full species that is endemic to the Chatham Islands (Pyramid prion P. pyramidalis).
  • The prions that breed on Heard Island (Australian territory) are subantarctic fairy prions (Pachyptila turtur eatoni) NOT lesser fulmar prions (P. crassirostris flemingi). This means that lesser fulmar prions are endemic to the Auckland Islands, and that Australia has lost a breeding species
  • As the ‘fulmar prions’ from the Chatham Islands are not closely related to the true fulmar prions that breed on the Bounty Islands and Snares Islands (Western Chain), this means that the fulmar prion as a species is endemic to the New Zealand subantarctic region, with one subspecies on the Bounty Islands and Snares Islands (Western Chain) and the other subspecies on the Auckland Islands.
  • Two subspecies of fairy prions should be recognised. Within the New Zealand region, the subantarctic fairy prion (P. turtur eatoni) breeds only on the Antipodes Islands. Beyond New Zealand it breeds on Macquarie Island, Heard Island, Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Islands, Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Under the New Zealand Threat Classification System, P. turtur eatoni should be classified as ‘Naturally Uncommon’, with the qualifiers ‘Secure Overseas’ and ‘One Location’.

Read more on the Te Papa blog:  Then there were eight: Te Papa research reveals yet another species of prion
and the research paper: Genomic analyses of fairy and fulmar prions (Procellariidae: Pachyptila spp.) reveals parallel evolution of bill morphology, and multiple species

September edition of Birds New Zealand magazine published

September 29th, 2022

The September 2022 edition of Birds New Zealand magazine has been published with reports on the 2022 New Zealand Bird conference and AGM, the award of a New Zealand Order of Merit to Birds New Zealand Councillor Keith Woodley, and the presentation of the Robert Falla Memorial Award to Graeme Taylor.

It also reports on recent population increases in North Island Kokako and Whenua Hou Diving Petrel, the first successful breeding of Orange-fronted Parakeets in the Nelson area for 100 years, and the first NZ record of Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel.

There are brief reports on new research being funded by Birds New Zealand on kiwi monitoring methods, and the impacts of plastic pollution and light pollution on seabirds. There is also news about recent outbreaks of avian influenza in the northern hemisphere, the 2020 NZ Beach Patrol annual report, and a recent Little Penguin die-off event in Northland.

There is an article on Growing the $2 million NZ Bird Atlas dataset, and an in-depth article summarising the changes in the new fifth edition of the Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand by checklist editor Colin Miskelly of Te Papa.

There is an illustrated article on how the ice ages drove blue-eyed shag evolution by Nic Rawlence of Otago University, and another on the evolution of the Huia’s bill shapes by Lara Shepherd of Te Papa.

This edition also includes the regular quarterly report of the Society’s President Bruce McKinlay, the regular Bird News section reporting on unusual bird sightings over the past six months, and illustrated quarterly reports from all regions sent in by the Society’s regional representatives.

Link to magazine:

Banding Newsletter September 2022

September 27th, 2022

The latest Banding Newsletter is now available here

Learn more about the New Zealand Banding Scheme here

A lucky find – Matsudaira’s storm petrel

September 13th, 2022

There are a handful of bird species that are included on the New Zealand list based on a single specimen found storm-wrecked somewhere on New Zealand’s long coastline. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes the discovery of the latest addition to this list. Read more

A new page for “Matsudaira’s storm petrel” has now been added to the New Zealand Birds Online website.

Whanganui Newsletter

September 6th, 2022

Download the latest Whanganui newsletter here

Other recent newsletters from around the regions are available here 

Celebrating a lifetime dedicated to seabirds

August 22nd, 2022

Graeme Taylor, Principal Science Advisor Marine, has been awarded the Robert Falla Memorial award at the 2022 New Zealand Bird Conference which was held in Christchurch in June.

Read more here

Australasian Bittern Survey (Birdlife Australia)

August 20th, 2022

Australasian Bittern are a partially nocturnal, cryptic, and nomadic heron species, which historically, have been observed in three countries, including Australia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. The species has been classified as globally endangered since 2016 due to the declining trajectory of its small remaining population (1000 – 2499 individuals). The lack of rigorous baseline data and understanding of breeding behaviour of the species have been identified as barriers to effective conservation efforts aimed at reversing these trajectories.

Very soon, male Australasian Bitterns will begin establishing their territories in freshwater habitats comprising dense reedbeds, and producing a distinct, low frequency call referred to as a ‘boom’. This boom both attracts females and intimidates rivals.  Birdlife Australia is recruiting listeners from across the Australasian Bittern’s range to undertake coordinated listening surveys and help identify this season’s breeding sites.  Ideally, volunteers should be available once over these date ranges:

  • September 8 – 12th,
  • October 8 – 12th,
  • November 6th – 10th,
  • December 6th – 10th

There’s no expectation to be available for every date. Listeners can determine how many they’re available for. Even just one dawn or dusk survey during the identified dates is an exceptional contribution.

More information can be found here:

Birdlife Australia