For the love of birds

Department of Conservation —  08/07/2013

Te Papa’s Florence Liger tells us about New Zealand Birds Online—a new website they created in partnership with The Ornithological Society of New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

We have recently launched NZ Birds Online, an encyclopaedia of New Zealand birds. I have been involved in this project for 18 months, from the IT side of things, and it’s been an absolute pleasure all along!

I’m an identification geek (among other geekily obsessions). If I have taken a photo of a fern, or a mushroom, or a bird, I will spend hours and hours looking at photos on websites to identify what it is I’ve taken a picture of.

That’s where the NZ Birds Online website comes in! (drumroll)

It’s got lots of things going for it.

1 – You can search for bird species by location

I’ve been to Kapiti Island and took a gazillion pictures of the residents. Well after that, I can actually compare what I have with what’s there!

NZ Birds Online location filter.

Filter birds by location.

2 – You can filter the list of birds by conservation status

I don’t really have illusions about the kind of birds I have pictures of. I usually take pictures while tramping, therefore I only get sociable and easy to spot birds. Removing the ones that are too absent to be in front of my camera is a great help.

NZ Birds Online conservation status filter.

Filter birds by conservation status

3 – I still haven’t found my bird? Well, I’ll use “Identify that bird”

I have geekily browsed through lots and lots of photos (just because I like it), and sometimes, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (pun intended). That’s when I can use “Identify that bird”, that starts by habitat and then drills down into what birds look like.

NZ Birds Online bird identifier tool.

Still no luck? Use the bird identifier tool

4 – Lots and lots and lots of beautiful gorgeous images!

Did you see that bird on the sea while fishing? Maybe it was scratching its wing on a branch far away… Or you’ve got a blurry shot of a bird in flight. Well, fear not, we have the snap that will make you sure that this IS the bird. There are so many photos for each species of bird that you are sure to find one that’s a match.

And in that process, you have had the chance to look at hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous photos. Some quirky, some cute furballs, some “standard” ones… But what a joy, what a satisfaction to be able to wonder at the beauty of those birds.

I did like birds before, but now I really do love them!

Reproduced with permission. Read more on the Te Papa blog:

7 responses to For the love of birds

    Nigel Baxter 01/08/2013 at 10:47 pm

    Fantastic website! As a Brit who fell in love with NZ’s native birdlife on my last trip, now I can get to know the species much better in preparation for my next visit. A big thank you for this excellent resource.


    Great concept – a question though – if you love birds so much as you say, why are you killing so many through 1080. ie. Kea etc etc – I have been into so many forest areas in NZ where you have dropped 1080 and they are deathly silent and bird life is virtually non existent!


      There is a clear and credible scientific body of evidence that 1080 is very effective at killing possums, rats and stoats and increasing populations of native species. This body of evidence gives us confidence in the benefits of using 1080. You might find this short video about evaluating the use of 1080, by Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment interesting/helpful:


        It might be very effective at killing those animals (only a small part of the equation to consider) but it kills everything else and you cannnot have a sustainable and healthy enviroment by pouring tons of poison into it. I go into so many areas of NZ bush where others don’t and after 1080 they are dead – like a morgue! Words on paper etc about how great 1080 is don’t match with reality.
        This is insane – conservation and healthy forests by poisoning with the deadliest poison known ….. really!

    Anne Coplestone 01/08/2013 at 3:27 pm

    I look forward to watching the native birds, silver eye, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Sparrow, from my garden, eat their breakfast of cooked rice and wild bird seed. It’s also been a lovely experience watching a juvenile (I think) Spoonbill grow as he feeds or sleeps on one leg at the Waiwakaiho river mouth.


    I love this website and since being made aware of it have used it to identify several birds around my garden at home. The options for searching make it easy to do so and I have learnt quite a lot of new information about the bird life around my house. I have been telling all my friends especially those with kids to use this great resource.