By DOC’s Sandra Jack, Auckland District Office
DOC Rangers in Auckland have been kept busy recently with sightings of the notorious red-vented bulbul in Auckland.
These birds are a major pest to agriculture and horticulture, and have the potential to negatively impact on New Zealand’s native species. They are an aggressive bird, chasing off other birds and competing with them for food and space – some have nicknamed them the true ‘angry birds’.
Rangers in Auckland have been following up sightings and talking to locals about the threat. However these birds are prolific breeders and the fear is that these birds are spreading. This fear seems to have been confirmed with a bird recently being sighted in rural Waikato.
The Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith recently announced that a reward of $300 is being offered for information leading to the red-vented bulbuls’ successful capture and removal from the wild.
What to look out for:
• Red-vented bulbuls are the size of a starling, generally dark brown/black in colour with a light coloured belly.
• They have a black head with small peaked crest (a bit like a mohawk!).
• Their distinguishing feature is their ‘red vent’ or small patch of bright red feathers beneath their tail.
• They like urban settings – one was recently found in Devonport but there have been sightings in rural areas too.
• Their distinctive call stands out from the usual mix of exotic and native birds.
If you see this bird, contact the Ministry of Primary Industries immediately on the Pest and Diseases Hotline (0800 80 99 66) and report its location. If possible take a photo.