Posts categorized as Birds

Albatross vs Shark

Seal shark head, jaws open showing teeth

This beauty and the beast tale did not end happily ever after for either character. Te Papa staff member Hokimate Harwood collected a rather smelly deceased albatross on Wellington’s south coast on 15 November. A Shark Tale In the lab we were astounded to see a shark’s tail protruding from its neck. When we cut… Read more »

Laughing owl – long gone but not forgotten

  • new mount
  • egg
  • b&w
  • Huia

A couple of months ago I received an unlikely phone call from a gentleman asking whether Te Papa was interested in purchasing a laughing owl specimen. He then mentioned in passing that he had an egg also. The museum receives freshly dead or frozen bird specimens most weeks, but it is a rare event to… Read more »

New Zealand Birds Online – 1 million hits

  • Google Analytics screen shot of NZ Birds Online visitation data, 09:08 am, 26 November 2016
  • Tui – the most viewed species on New Zealand Birds Online. Image: Tony Whitehead, NZ Birds Online
  • Magpie-lark - the most recent vagrant bird species to be added to the New Zealand list. Image: Sonja Ross, NZ Birds Online
  • Daily visits to NZ Birds Online - growing steadily and approaching 2,000 per day.

The website New Zealand Birds Online is a collaborative project between Te Papa, Birds New Zealand and the Department of Conservation. It was launched in June 2013, and use of the site has continued to grow since, with just over 1,900 visits to the site per day at present. The milestone of 1,000,000 visits to… Read more »

Our little penguin research continues this year as the team returned to Motuara Island in Marlborough (see the 2014 Te Papa penguin blogs for more about last year’s research). The penguins nesting at this site benefit from a predator free nesting habitat, shared with a number of land- and sea-birds. As one of the sites open… Read more »

Introducing Imber’s petrel: a new recently extinct seabird species for New Zealand

Holotype of Imber’s petrel. Sampling bones for DNA typically involves drilling holes or cutting chunks out of them. However, for this bone we were able to soak DNA out of the bone without damaging it.

New Zealand has a new species of seabird. Te Papa scientists recently described Imber’s petrel (Pterodroma imberi) from the Chatham Islands as a new species. A previous study that measured a large number of seabird bones from the Chatham Islands found three size categories.   The largest bones belong to the Magenta petrel/taiko (Pterodroma magentae)… Read more »

A Bird in the Hand: How to catch a Westland Petrel

A Bird in the Hand: A Westland Petrel is gently held by Te Papa scientist Jean-Claude Stahl after being weighed.
Photo: Kate Whitley, 2015 © Te Papa

The last vestiges of light are fading over Paparoa National Park, Westland in the South Island of New Zealand. As the skies darken, a magnificent silhouette can be seen soaring above a small group of scientists. Soon one silhouette becomes many and within fifteen minutes of the first sighting, birds begin to plummet down into… Read more »

Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 2 – Songbirds

  • Skull and mandible of Chatham Island raven (Corvus moriorum). Te Papa Collections Online S.028679
  • Skull and mandible of South Island stout-legged wren (Pachyplichas yaldwyni). Te Papa Collections Online S.023578
  • Lyall’s wren (Traversia lyalli). Te Papa Collections Online OR.005098
  • Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris). Te Papa Collections Online OR.001328

Songbirds are perhaps our most familiar birds, including most of the species that visit our gardens. They also include our best-known extinct bird – the huia, which has been extinct for about a century. Many people blame hunting by humans (for specimens to sell to collectors, or for the much-prized tail feathers) for the huia’s… Read more »