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.Read more

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.Read more

The 10,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online might seem an unlikely image to celebrate, but it has an astonishing back-story. It is a well-camouflaged clutch of four eggs, laid by a tiny wading bird that doesn’t even breed in New Zealand. The image was taken by Russian biologistRead more

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. HeRead more

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. TheRead more

In common usage, the term ‘moa’ is often used as if it refers to a single species. This is a long way from the truth. Not only are nine different species recognised, but they are classified in three separate families. They were the best example of adaptive radiation among vertebratesRead more

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 withRead more