Our Birds

A key indicator of progress for the Project will be the increasing visibility of many bird species as predators are controlled and food sources improve as a result of the absence of browsing. Keep an eye on this page for information about some of the species currently present in the Park and those we hope to reintroduce over time.

Visit Pete’s Tweet for the latest information on birds in Abel Tasman National Park.

Those with an interest in native or introduced NZ birds should check out the new online encyclopaedia of NZ Birds at http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/  The web site provides a comprehensive source of authoritative information about NZ’s birds and includes easy searching.

Banded rail (pererū) [thumb]

Banded rail (pererū)

Banded rail (pererū) are found throughout the southwest Pacific, where they have evolved into several different subspecies. On the mainland of New Zealand they are most common in mangrove forests, salt marshes and in some freshwater wetlands around northern parts of the North Island. The best site for seeing a banded rail in the Abel Tasman National Park is on the Mārahau...
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bellbird (korimako) [thumb]

Bellbird (korimako)

Wherever you are in the Abel Tasman National Park you are likely to see or hear the bellbird. They feed on fruit, nectar and invertebrates and are very adaptable to different habitats and food sources. Like tūī, bellbirds are able to travel long distances to find seasonally abundant foods. Bellbirds feed on the beech honeydew (or lerp to Australians), which is produced...
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Black-backed gull [thumb]

Black-backed gull (karoro)

This large gull, or one of four other subspecies, is common throughout temperate and subantarctic habitats in the Southern Hemisphere. It has become so common in New Zealand that it is one of only two native species for which there is no legal protection. As an efficient scavenger, the species has thrived at garbage disposal sites, on the waste generated from...
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Blue penguin (kororā) [thumb]

Blue penguin (kororā)

The blue penguin is the smallest penguin, known as kororā in Māori, and variously called blue, little blue or fairy penguin in English. For visitors from the Northern Hemisphere this strange little bird may be a highlight, as penguins are only found south of the equator (with the exception of the Galapagos Islands). The difficulty in seeing these little penguins is that...
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Canada goose [thumb]

Canada goose

The Canada goose was introduced into New Zealand as a game species. It has become so abundant, and is such a problem for pastoralists, that all protection has been lifted. This bird was unknown within the Abel Tasman National Park until a few years ago. Now there is a small, obvious flock established at Apple Tree Bay. Identification is not difficult...
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fantail

Fantail (pīwakawaka)

Known for its friendly ‘cheet cheet’ call and energetic flying antics, the aptly named fantail is one of the most common and widely distributed native birds on the New Zealand mainland. It is easily recognized by its long tail which opens to a fan. It has a small head and bill and has two colour forms, pied and black. The pied birds...
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Grey warbler (riroriro) [thumb]

Grey warbler (riroriro)

The grey warbler is known as the riroriro in Māori. This ubiquitous little bird is well known in Māori legends and whakataukī (proverbs). The saying: “I whea koe i te tangihanga o te riroriro?” can be translated as: “Where were you when the riroriro appeared?”—meaning, you should have been here in spring at planting time. Its song is a plaintive and...
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Kingfisher (kōtare) [thumb]

Kingfisher (kōtare)

This small native bird is equally at home on the coast or at inland sites. There is a tendency for kingfishers to winter in coastal habitats and then move inland to breed. Their nest is always in a hole—excavated with their powerful bill in either a dead tree or a clay bank. Along the Abel Tasman coastline they can be...
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kererū [thumb]

New Zealand pigeon (kererū)

The New Zealand pigeon, or kererū, is one of the largest pigeons in the world. It is one of those birds where the Māori name is more appealing and more commonly used. Few words are needed to help in its identification—you will probably hear its noisy wingbeats before you see it, and will then notice its distinctive white breast perched...
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Shining cuckoo (pīpīwharauroa) [thumb]

Shining cuckoo (pīpīwharauroa)

The arrival of the shining cuckoo is eagerly awaited by bird watchers up and down the country. It is first heard in the north in late September, but is rapidly heard throughout the country thereafter. However, its arrival may not be as welcome to the grey warbler. The female shining cuckoo removes a single egg from the warbler's clutch, replacing it...
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Silvereye (tauhou) [thumb]

Silvereye (tauhou)

The silvereye is arguably our most common and most widespread native bird. It is sometimes known as the waxeye. The silvereye is a relatively recent arrival from Australia and its success in New Zealand is surely due to its ability to thrive in almost all habitats and feed widely on invertebrates, fruit and nectar. Silvereyes are small, distinctive birds. They have a...
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South Island pied oystercatcher (tōrea) [thumb]

South Island pied oystercatcher (tōrea)

The South Island pied oystercatcher is the most abundant oystercatcher in New Zealand. It will usually be found in a flock and has strongly contrasting white and black plumage with a long red bill. It is smaller than the variable oystercatcher, but has a similar call evocative of wide open coastal spaces. The pied oystercatcher uses the Abel Tasman as a...
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South Island saddleback (tīeke) thumb

South Island saddleback (tīeke)

With its bold brown saddle and distinctive orange-red wattle the saddleback or tīeke is one of New Zealand’s most recognisable birds but also one of the rarest. South Island saddleback belong to an ancient group of wattlebirds or Callaeidae that are found only in New Zealand and include the endangered kōkako and extinct huia. The rather naïve habit of roosting and...
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Spotted shag (pārekareka) [thumb]

Spotted shag (pārekareka)

This shag is becoming very common along the rocky coastline of the Abel Tasman. If you arrived in the Park on a water taxi you will have seen them on the rock face during your stop at Split Apple Rock. You may also have seen them flying in formation low over the water or perched on other exposed coastal cliffs. Some...
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Red-billed gull (tarāpunga) [thumb]

Red-billed gull (tarāpunga)

There are two medium-sized, blue/grey gulls likely to be seen on the New Zealand coastline. The most common and widespread is the red-billed gull, which is pretty much confined to the coast. You will see one or two on most beaches in the Park and if you look offshore you may see small flocks of them, particularly when they are...
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Tūī [thumb]

Tūī

Tūī are some of the most common native birds in the Abel Tasman National Park. They are boisterous and usually very vocal with a distinctive broad repertoire of gurgles and clunks in addition to their finer song. Tūī can look black from a distance, but they have an iridescent blue and green sheen and distinctive white throat tuft. Within New Zealand...
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Variable oystercatcher (tōrea tai) [thumb]

Variable oystercatcher (tōrea tai)

You would be hard-pressed to find a beach in the Abel Tasman without oystercatchers. This bird is found world-wide in temperate climates with two species present in mainland New Zealand – the variable and South Island pied oystercatcher. In this part of the country the variable oystercatcher is invariably all black and is resident all year round. They are often seen in...
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White-faced heron (matuku) [thumb]

White-faced heron (matuku)

The white-faced heron, or matuku, is a new native. That is, it arrived naturally (blown over from Australia) but only became established in New Zealand in the last 60 years. It is a tall, elegant, blue-grey bird that will be seen stalking its prey in most of the estuaries along the Abel Tasman coastline. Because it forages in a broad...
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Yellow-crowned parakeet (kākāriki) thumb

Yellow-crowned parakeet (kākāriki)

Kākāriki or yellow-crowned parakeets are small, bright green, noisy parrots that spend most of their time high in the forest canopy. Their characteristic chatter can be heard in the upper reaches of the park. Kākāriki were once extremely common throughout New Zealand, and in the Nelson and Golden Bay area huge flocks were quite a pest in early fruit orchards. However...
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pateke thumb

Pāteke/brown teal

The pāteke/brown teal is a small New Zealand dabbling duck and the rarest native waterfowl found on the mainland. Once widespread throughout freshwater and estuarine wetlands, predation by introduced mammals like cats, dogs and stoats has seen the population reduced to an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 pāteke now living in the wild.  Most pāteke are now found on Great Barrier Island...
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