The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
New Zealand’s Rarest Mainland Forest Bird Is Having an ‘Epic’ Breeding Season
Up until 25 years ago, New Zealand's orange-fronted parakeet, or kākāriki karaka, was believed to be extinct. Now, it's having one of its best breeding seasons in decades, NPR reported Thursday.
At least 150 kākāriki karaka chicks have been born in the wild this season, New Zealand Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said in a statement Wednesday, potentially doubling the population of New Zealand's rarest mainland forest bird, which is estimated to be between 100 and 300.
"It is great news that this year there are more than three times the number of nests compared to previous years," Sage said. "This year's epic breeding provides a much-needed boost to the kākāriki karaka population."
The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) said it had found 31 nests in Canterbury so far this year, and that the breeding season was not yet over.
The bird, also known as Malherbe's Parakeet, scientific name Cyanoramphus malherbi, is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The leading threat to the endangered species are the stoats and rats that were introduced to New Zealand, which prey on the birds. The parakeets are also threatened by resource use and habitat loss. They require beech trees old enough to form cavities suitable for nests. But beech trees tend to be harvested before these holes have time to form, meaning the birds are unlikely to settle in managed forests, the IUCN concluded.
This year's population boost is also related to the beech tree: 2019's mast of beech seeds is the biggest in more than 40 years.
"There has been so much seed on the beech trees the birds just keep on breeding with some parakeet pairs onto their fifth clutch of eggs," Sage said. "When there's no beech mast they typically have just one or two clutches."
But the mast is also expected to increase the population of the bird's imported predators.
"Over the coming months, DOC will be focused on protecting the critically endangered kākāriki karaka from increased numbers of rats, stoats and feral cats," Sage said.
The birds once lived across New Zealand, BBC News reported, but during the 20th century, their numbers declined to the point where they were believed extinct. However, in 1993 they were re-discovered in the country's Canterbury region.
Conservation groups have bred more than 500 of the parakeets since 2003 and released them into Canterbury, as well as onto predator-free islands, DOC said.
This year, 62 kākāriki karaka were released into the South Branch of Canterbury's Hurunui River. Most of the introduced birds survived and are getting ready to breed.
- 20,000 Seabirds Mysteriously Wash Up Dead on Dutch Coastline ... ›
- Climate Crisis Likely Caused Mass Die-Off of Tufted Puffins ... ›
- Millions of Songbirds Do Not Need to Suffer Gruesome Deaths So ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Erica Cirino
Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.
By Jason Bittel
High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.
By Bob Curley
- The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
- Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
- The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.
McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.
By Andrea Germanos
Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.
By Tim Radford
The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began — leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.