Aucklanders asked to go biosecurity bird-watching

Media contact: Lesley Patston
Telephone: 029 8940163

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking Aucklanders to keep an eye out for an unwanted bird species that is thought to be in the wider city area and could harm our native birdlife and damage fruit and vegetable crops.

The bird – red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) – is aggressive to other bird species and is one of the world’s most invasive bird species. The Ministry has credible reports that some of these birds are present in the greater Auckland area.

MPI Response Manager, Jaap Knegtmans, says the Ministry is concerned that a population may establish in Auckland that would affect residents’ gardens, native vegetation and birdlife.

MPI is working in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Auckland Council to track down any birds present and eradicate them.

“These birds are common in other parts of the Pacific, particularly in Fiji and suburban Sydney. They may have hitched a ride here on a commercial vessel or a recreational yacht,” says Mr Knegtmans.

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’re very keen to hear from them.”

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.

Report suspect finds immediately to MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline - 0800 80 99 66.

Full information, including pictures and an audio track of their unique call is at:

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