Rare vagrant birds can be a challenge to identify correctly. In many migratory bird groups (e.g. waders, terns, and petrels), several species look very similar to each other. There are further complications with species that look very different depending on their age and breeding status (e.g. juvenile plumage versus adult non-breeding plumage, or adult breeding plumage). When a previously unrecognised vagrant species reaches New Zealand, it is even more challenging, as it will not be featured in New Zealand field guides and websites. Unless bird-watchers are thinking globally, a previously unrecorded species may be overlooked if it is misidentified as a species that is already on the New Zealand list. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes how this was the initial fate of New Zealand’s first black tern.
The 14,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online was of a recently-fledged banded dotterel chick, taken by Derek Templeton. The image was taken near Blenheim, where Derek is based. Here, Derek answers a few questions about how he got involved in wildlife photography, and why he started contributing images to New Zealand Birds Online.
The 11,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online was of a rare vagrant Australian duck, and it comes with an inspirational back-story of family-based discovery and adventure.
The latest addition to the New Zealand bird list is not a species that anyone expected – and it very nearly got over-looked. Dunedin-based Leon Berard was working as a Ministry for Primary Industries fisheries observer in February 2014, when he photographed a bird that he did not recognise. He
Rails are a group of birds that include the familiar pukeko and weka, and also takahe, coots, and the small, secretive crakes that inhabit densely vegetated wetlands. At least 14 species of rails were living in New Zealand before human contact, eight of which have since been lost. As with
‘Waterfowl’ is a collective term usually applied to swans, geese and ducks. They all belong to a single family (Anatidae). No other family of birds has suffered so many species extinctions in New Zealand. Seven named species of ducks and two geese have become extinct in the last 800 years,
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
Few New Zealanders are aware how many bird species have been lost since people first reached New Zealand less than 800 years ago. The number of named extinct species continues to increase, largely due to careful examination of bones from Chatham Island dunes and caves, but is currently 53 species