Hihi and Tieke Breeding Season Contractor

Hihi and Tieke Breeding Season Contractor

Maungatautari Ecological Island

September through November 2014

I was jointly employed through the London Zoological Society, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust (Maungatautari) to monitor Hihi (Notiomystis cincta) and Tieke (Philesturnus carunculatus) breeding during the summer of 2014. Maungatautari is a predator-free mainland island located near Cambridge on the North Island of New Zealand. Through regular monitoring Maungatautari predator-free status is maintained, making it an ideal site for the reintroduction of native species. Beginning in 2009 hihi and tieke were brought back to Maungatautari’s mature forest through a series of reintroductions. To assess the condition of these newly reestablished populations I was contracted to monitor the 2014 breeding season.

The field season began with the second annual October Volunteer Hihi and Tieke Survey. I was personally responsible for assigning volunteers to crews and survey routes based on their fitness levels and experience with bird identification. I trained about 30 volunteers on how to identify birds by sight/sound; read color band combinations; correctly perform call back surveys; and record sightings including band status and location. Each morning I would conduct a briefing where I ensure that each group was comfortable with the equipment and their assigned route for that day. I also arranged accommodations for visiting volunteers and personally cooked them homemade meals each evening. To improve future volunteer surveys I wrote Methods for Maungatautari Ecological Island October Volunteer Hihi/Tieke Survey, which provided in-depth instructions on how to organize and run the surveys.

Upon the completion of the volunteer survey, I began an independent 15-day hihi mark-recapture survey. Using my knowledge of hihi behavior and distribution at Maungatautari I modified the methods of the survey developed in 2010 in the hopes of improving the accuracy of the population estimate. Additionally, throughout the breeding season I independently mist netted and banded both adult and juvenile hihi. At the conclusion of the breeding season, I accumulated all the data and results to write Reintroduction of hihi (Notiomystis cincta) and Tieke (Philesturnus carunculatus) to Maungatautari Ecological Island–Post-release Monitoring Report, which was presented to the annual Hihi Recovery Group meeting.