Cyclone Dovi was a Category 4 severe tropical cyclone that passed through New Caledonia before barreling into New Zealand during 12–14 February 2022. Many North Island residents were hit by gale-force winds, power outages, torrential rain and flooding. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes a recent discovery that came along with it.
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.
In August last year a small green pigeon flew across the Tasman Sea – and into the history books. It became the first vagrant bird species to be intercepted at the New Zealand border and put down as a potential biosecurity risk. Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly tells the unfortunate story of New Zealand’s first rose-crowned fruit-dove.
Finding a new bird species for their country of residence is the holy grail for many birdwatchers. Over the last decade, new species have been detected in New Zealand at an average rate of one every 15 months. The finding of two new bird species within 2 days by the same team of observers was unprecedented – but that is what happened.
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