Archives For saddleback

New Zealand is full of weird, wonderful creatures and we’re lucky enough to get opportunities to discover more about these biological treasures. Senior Ranger Phil Melgren had one of these opportunities recently – a great gecko hunt.

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Forty tīeke/North Island saddleback were recently welcomed to Ipipiri in the Eastern Bay of Islands by around 90 tāngata whenua and Project Island Song supporters.

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The tīeke/saddleback belongs to New Zealand’s unique wattlebird family, an ancient group which includes the endangered kōkako and the extinct huia. An adult tīeke can be recognised by a distinctive chestnut saddle of colour.

According to Māori mythology the chestnut saddle was put there by the demi-god Maui. Following Maui’s battle with the sun the tīeke refused to bring water to a thirsty Maui, becoming angry he seized the bird with his still fiery hand, leaving a brown scorch mark across its back.

North Island Tieke. Photo: Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0

Last Saturday 40 tīeke were released in Taranaki to join a recently released founding population. The birds were released at Taranaki’s pest-free Lake Rotokare Reserve.

These are the fist tīeke to live in the Taranaki region for more than 150 years.

Photo by Andy McDowall | CC BY-NC 2.0.