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DOC steps up for fairy tern

Posted at 10:16am Monday 12 Oct, 2020

Fairy terns enjoyed a successful breeding season last year.
Fairy terns enjoyed a successful breeding season last year.

A rare fairy tern chick that Department of Conservation (DOC) staff carefully nurtured with supplementary feeding last season has been making regular appearances around Waipū.

DOC biodiversity ranger Ayla Wiles says the bird is looking “very well fed”.

“He seems to have been accepted into the tara iti (fairy tern) community and is doing quite well for himself. We don't expect him to breed for at least a couple of years but are just happy to see him make it through his first winter,” she says.

Meanwhile, DOC says it has ramped up efforts to protect fairy terns during this summer's breeding season.

Seven additional fairy tern rangers have joined the wider DOC fairy tern team and will be based at nesting sites in Mangawhai, Waipū, Pakiri and Papakanui from now until February.

Breeding sites will be monitored seven days a week during the season by rangers and trained volunteers.

“Our fairy tern rangers, along with trained volunteers, are essential for the survival of the species,” Ms Wiles says.

In addition to keeping an eye on the birds and their chicks, rangers and volunteers keep records of feeding and other behaviours.   

Ms Wiles says the birds enjoyed a fairly successful breeding season last year in terms of chick numbers.

Fairy tern are critically endangered, with the total population of the species estimated to be fewer than 40 birds.

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