Return of the saddleback
The saddleback (photo supplied)
Wed, 14 Mar 2012 4:33a.m.
The endangered saddleback will return to the Auckland mainland in March, for the first time in more than 150 years.
Ninety of the rare birds are being released into the open sanctuary at Tawharanui Regional Park, and will test its success as a pest-free sanctuary.
The saddleback, or tieke, is the latest in a long line of residents brought in to the sanctuary – kiwi, pateke, robins and whiteheads have all been introduced, and bellbirds and kaka have returned of their own accord.
Massey University’s Dr Kevin Parker says the birds will be sourced from three different colonies, which he hopes will strengthen “genetic fitness and overall population health” – if it is practical.
He says it is unknown if the birds, which will have different songs specific to the colony they come from, will be “willing to pair and breed”.
Predators, particularly rats, were responsible for the saddleback’s disappearance from the mainland in the mid to late 1800s.