Angry Birds still at large in Auckland

Media contact: Lesley Patston

A number of aggressive pest birds are on the loose in the wider Auckland area and biosecurity officials are calling for public support to track them down.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that red-vented bulbul birds have been spotted in Mangere and Devonport and possibly also on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. It’s uncertain just how many of the birds are out there.

MPI Response Manager, Jaap Knegtmans, says the Ministry is concerned that a population may establish in Auckland that could affect the horticultural industry, native vegetation and birdlife and private gardens.

“The red-vented bulbul is aggressive to other birds and is regarded as one of the world’s most invasive bird species,” he says.

It’s for this reason that MPI has teamed up with the Department of Conservation and Auckland Council to track down any birds present and eradicate them.

“We’d like to hear from members of the public who believe they’ve seen these birds and the sooner we can hear about a potential sighting, the better,” Mr Knegtmans says.

Red-vented bulbuls are a medium-sized bird around the size of a starling (20 cm in length – body and tail). They are generally dark coloured with a lighter chest and rump, a small crest on their head, and significantly, a very distinctive crimson-red patch beneath their tail.

“This red patch is the key identification feature. If people have seen a bird with these bright red feathers beneath the tail, we urge them to contact MPI on its free Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline – 0800 80 99 66. Taking a photo, if possible, would also be a huge help.”

Mr Knegtmans says red-vented bulbuls have invaded other parts of the Pacific, particularly in Fiji and suburban Sydney. The Ministry believes it’s likely they hitched a ride here on a commercial vessel or a recreational yacht.

Red-vented bulbuls have been found in Auckland before - in the 1950s and more recently in 2006. In both instances they were eradicated.

Mr Knegtmans says while the red-vented bulbuls may appear cute, they’re anything but, and urgent action is required to locate and capture them before they establish.

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