I was lucky enough to be involved with some monitoring work around the North Island robin near the beginning of last week. I figured that these curious critters were the perfect candidate for our second species spotlight! (That and I have some pretty neat shots of the little guys).
Scientific name - Petroica longipes
Common name (English/Te Reo) - North Island robin / Toutouwai
Conservation status – LC – Least Concern IUCN 3.1
Diet – Insects, mostly from ground foraging
Anyone who has gone tramping in areas with robins will recognise these friendly birds. There is many a story about the curious birds even sitting on tramping boots. Being ground foragers means that humans are a particularly attractive species from a robin’s perspective. As we go rummaging through the leaf litter on our way past we stir up a feast of invertebrates.
Last week myself and a couple of other rangers headed out to follow up on post-translocation monitoring. As you can see from the above photo, the birds were banded before being released which enables us to re-identify individuals as we tour the area. It can be quite a tricky business seeing the colour combinations before the bird bounces off (taking photos to double check worked brilliantly and resulted in some good shots to share here on Earth Janitor).
To entice the birds to our spot we had a mixture of methods including playing back robin calls which invokes a curiosity factor if not a territorial response. We also tapped sticks on trees which at first seems odd, however, these birds were previously trained to associate that sound with a subsequent offering of tasty meal worms. A few birds even popped up seemingly out of the blue.
They can be rather comical, I noted them bouncing around from perch to perch and even chasing one another through the undergrowth. Below a bird is photographed whilst preening.
We were all really encouraged to note just as many unbanded birds as banded. The unbanded birds are the successful offspring of the original translocated birds, showing the positive outcome of the operation. The on-going success of these birds is largely based on the significant trapping programme in the area which keeps introduced predator densities very low.
Be sure to check out the North Island robin photo album for more pictures >> http://earthjanitor.com/wordpress/photos/?locale=en_US&wppa-album=37&wppa-cover=0&wppa-occur=1
Video footage is coming soon to the video page!