Birds on MPI Christmas wish-list

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me – a red-vented bulbul in a kauri tree… (or any tree for that matter)…

Well at least that’s what the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) would like for Christmas or the New Year.

MPI, in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Auckland Council are leading a response which aims to eradicate a new bird arrival in Auckland – the aggressive red-vented bulbul.

A small number of these birds have been seen in the wider Auckland area this year. They can cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops and are known to chase and attack other birds.

Response Manager Brad Chandler says public support is needed to help track them down.

“Along with our partner agencies, we’re taking the threat these introduced birds pose very seriously. So much so, that MPI has offered a $1000 dollar reward for information reported to its 0800 number that leads directly to a live capture by a member of the response team.

If you believe you’ve seen one of these birds, please report the sighting to 0800 80 99 66 – MPI’s 24/7 Exotic Pest and Disease hotline. A good indication of location as well as a photo would be fantastic. At this time of year, that $1000 is likely to come in very handy.”

Red-vented bulbuls are originally from Asia and have spread into the Pacific and Australia. They feed on fruit and vegetables and pose a threat to our horticulture and wine industries.

“They also threaten our native birdlife since they’re aggressive and are known to chase and attack other birds,” says Mr Chandler.

The red-vented bulbul is one of the most invasive bird species in the world. In New Zealand they’re listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The maximum penalty for importing, trading, releasing, exhibiting or breeding a red-vented bulbul is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

To date there have been confirmed sightings of red-vented bulbuls in three main locations - south Auckland (Mangere/Manurewa), west Auckland (Henderson/Te Atatu) and on the North Shore (Devonport/Belmont/Takapuna). There has also been a confirmed sighting on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

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 brown/grey coloured with a lighter chest and rump, a small crest on their head, and significantly, a very distinctive crimson-red patch of feathers beneath their tail.

“This red patch is the key identification feature. If people have seen a bird with these crimson-red feathers beneath the tail, please give us a call.”

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