The Great Kererū Count 2018

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The Great Kererū Count is on the way!

Media information:

The Project

The Great Kererū Count is NZ’s biggest citizen science project. The project is all about community participation through citizen science. Citizen science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. The annual count has been running for 4 years.

Tony Stoddard, Kererū Discovery Trust, is encouraging everyone across New Zealand to take part in this year’s Great Kererū Count.

“From the 21 September to 30 September we want everyone out counting kererū from the top of the North Island to Stewart Island and everywhere in-between” says Stoddard.

“Kererū are our only native bird that wears the iconic New Zealand 70’s white singlet which makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines. They not only live deep in our forests but have also adapted well to urban living.”

Everyone in New Zealand can get involved with the Great Kererū Count, whether people see any kererū or not, sharing observations will help build up a clearer picture of where the kererū live, how many kererū there are, what they are feeding on and most importantly how best to protect them.

Dr Stephen Hartley, Director of the Centre of Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington, explains the scientific significance of the project: “Over time, we hope to discover whether numbers are increasing or decreasing and whether populations are faring better or worse in some parts of the country compared to others.

“Given the ecological importance of kererū, this information is critical not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the vitality of our forest ecosystems for future generations.”

Making your kererū court is easy with our Quick Observation Page (No login required) via our website

all photos © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

Importance of Kererū

Kererū are protected birds and endemic to New Zealand. Kererū numbers today are much lower than the flocks reported from 50-100 years ago. Despite this, they do not have formal threatened status. This means that the Great Kererū Count is the only centralised data gathered to monitor the overall national trends of this significant bird. Kererū play a crucial role in dispersing the large fruits of our native trees such as tawa, taraire and matai and many more. No other mainland bird is large enough to fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration. Information and data collected from this nationwide citizen science project will be used to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.

Threats to Kererū

The main threat to kererū is predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly feral cats, possums, stoats and rats. These threats are even more serious for kererū during nesting season, as unlike many of our other native birds, kererū only lay one egg per nest. Other threats include collisions with man-made objects such as fast-moving vehicles, overhead power and telephone wires, fences and windows, and most alarmingly, the practice of illegal hunting of kererū.

The past 4 years of the Great Kererū Count

The previous 4 years have proven the level of interest and love New Zealanders hold for kererū, in turn, showing how culturally and ecologically significant kererū are to us all. We have around 3 years left of data to collect so it’s incredibly important for us to complete this journey with you, our citizen scientists. Everyone in New Zealand can get involved with the Great Kererū Count, whether you see any kererū or not, sharing observations will help build up a clearer picture of where the kererū live, how many kererū there are or aren’t, what they are feeding on and most importantly how best to protect them.

Each year the number of people participating in the Great Kererū Count has been steadily increasing. An enduring longitudinal and statistically significant dataset will have incredible value in understanding the impacts and outcomes of other related activities such as trapping and habitat restoration.

all photos © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

The Great Kererū Count is a collaborative project

Brought to NZ by Kererū Discovery Trust in partnership with WWF-New Zealand, Wellington City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.

The Great Kererū Count is also proudly supported by iNaturalist NZ, Groundtruth, Forest & Bird, KCC, Zealandia, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Nelson Nature, Wellington Zoo, Enviroschools, LEARNZ, Department of Conservation, CORE Education, Birds New Zealand, Dunedin City Council, Palmerston North City Council.

Information for participants

Important dates:
The Great Kererū Count 2018 runs from 21-September to 30-September

How to take part The Great Kererū Count observations can be made on the Quick Observation Page (No login required) via our website

The Great Kererū Count observations can also be made via the iNaturalist App for Android and iPhones. Information is available on how to download this free App from

The Great Kererū Count observations can also be made directly in iNaturalist NZ This will be available from 21 September to 30 September.

all photos © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

Other Resources – The Great Kererū Count 2018 Photos, Poster, Banner, Flyer, Video

Kererū Photos

High-resolution photos are available to download and use for media from
all images and video © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

GKC2018 – Poster, Banner, Flyer, Kererū Video Footage

These are available for download from Google Drive or DropBox:
all images and video © Tony Stoddard from Kererū Discovery Trust

Social Media Kererū Discovery


#GKC2018 #GreatKereruCount #kererudiscovery @kererudiscovery

Kererū Discovery One News Interview

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‘The injuries are horrific’ – Kereru dying in big numbers on Wellington highway

Sadly known as “flying pillows”, kereru are being killed along a stretch of State Highway Two near Wellington.

Nearby trees are proving irresistible to the kereru birds. Source: 1 NEWS

In August every year, the protected and native birds swoop down from the nearby hills to eat the green shoots off the Lucerne trees planted along the road and get hit by cars.

Tony Stoddard (Kererū Discovery) is now fighting the Greater Wellington Regional Council to get the trees removed.

Last year, he found more than 17 dead kereru on the side of the road – five in one day.

“What happens is they hit the cars and they just explode… with feathers everywhere,” Mr Stoddard said.

“You’re in a 100k/h zone and there’s just no way for even a car to avoid them.”

He says it’s a heartbreaking mission to remove the dead birds, but he can’t stand letting them stay on the road.

“The injuries are completely horrific. Everything you can imagine from burst crop to smashed wings and legs, internal lacerations of the heart.”

The council says it is aware of the problem and is working on a solution, which it says may or may not result in the removal of the trees.

However, Tony Stoddard says time is running out before the kereru swoop again.

“We’re just going to go through the same scenario again and right from day one we’ll start to see casualties of kereru dead on the side of the road.”

Birds eye view – photo exhibition

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Wellington wildlife photographer Tony Stoddard’s new photo exhibition:

Birds Eye View – Portraits of New Zealand Birds

This latest exhibition brings you eye to eye with some of New Zealand’s endemic and native birds

Birds Eye View – Portraits of New Zealand Birds

The exhibition runs from 2nd March to 2nd April (Now extended until mid-May 2018)

Woolstore Design Centre
Level 1, 262 Thorndon Quay,
Pipitea, Wellington 6011

Each of the nine selected photos comes as a limited edition of 6
Printed on 310gsm Ilford smooth cotton rag paper – Framed with custom matt.

Tui / tūī – Limited Edition of 6

Morepork / ruru – Limited Edition of 6

Bellbird / korimako – Limited Edition of 6
Almost – SOLD OUT / Only one left

Pied Shags / kāruhiruhi – Limited Edition of 6
Almost – SOLD OUT

Stitchbird / hihi – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

Red-crowned parakeet/ kākāriki – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

Shining cuckoo/ pīpīwharauroa – Limited Edition of 6
Only 3 left

North Island kaka / kākā – Limited Edition of 6
Only 4 left

North Island robin / toutouwai – Limited Edition of 6
Only 5 left

World’s first official kererū road safety signs installed

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World’s first official kererū road safety signs installed

In an effort to make our streets safer and reduce cars killing kererū, Wellington City Council has installed “Slow for kererū” road signs at key locations around Zealandia and Otari Wiltons Bush.

Both of these natural areas are home to many of these big birds which are now often found feeding and flapping around busy roads. Kererū numbers in Wellington are on the increase across the city, but so is bird mortality.

This partnership project between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Kererū Discovery NZ and Wellington City Council aims to increase awareness, and encourage drivers to slow down to avoid hitting kererū. The desire for the project came from Tony Stoddard at Kererū Discovery. Tony says he knows of at least 30 birds hit and killed by cars over the last year in the Wellington region.

“When taking off kererū often take a while to get elevation and so are at risk of being hit by cars, especially where there is vegetation close to the ground that they are feeding on. It is heartbreaking to pick up dead birds from the roadside.”

Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster says, “Tony got in touch about the problem in July. I quickly found there was no officially gazetted kererū road sign in New Zealand, so the Council Transport team and NZTA did a fantastic and amazingly quick job designing and then legally gazetting these signs, which can now be officially used across the country. We just want drivers to be aware and to slow down a bit. Nobody wants to kill one of these wonderful birds, and slowing down in these areas will be good for human safety too.”

Tony, who also manages the annual Great Kererū Count says, “It is wonderful seeing more and more kererū in Wellington. In September this year, a total of 3804 kererū were counted from 1921 observations in Wellington City.

“That doesn’t mean 3804 separate birds, but this was the highest level of community involvement in the country, and in doing this Wellingtonians are helping to get a better understanding of kererū numbers and distribution across New Zealand.”

New Zealand Transport Agency’s Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says it’s great to be able to join forces with the Wellington City Council and help efforts to protect and grow the kererū population. “The signs will increase driver awareness and help keep the kererū safe,” says Emma.

Councillor Foster, Wellington City Councils Predator Free Wellington portfolio leader says, “Habitat for kererū and other native birds in Wellington is improving all the time with land protection, active and passive regeneration and increasingly intensive predator control across the cities reserves and backyards. It is just fantastic that Wellingtonians care so much about the natural environment and are getting actively involved in restoring it. In a way, these kererū signs are also a little symbol of our collective progress in that restoration journey.”

The 2017 Great Kererū Count – Results

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The 2017 Great Kererū Count


Kererū observations


Kererū counted

The GKC team asked needs New Zealanders across the county to keep their eyes on the skies to help build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is – and isn’t – found.

As of now, across New Zealand, there have been 6,946 observations and 15,459 kererū counted. Final national numbers are still being analysed.

We’re thrilled that so many people from across the country joined the Count this year with observations coming in from across New Zealand from the far north to the deep south.

Most 2017 kererū sightings were recorded in Wellington, Auckland, Nelson/Tasman and Dunedin. A new kererū hotspot this year was Dunedin. Good numbers came in from Waiheke Island, Whangarei, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, West Coast and Christchurch. There were observations from areas including Bluff, Codfish Island, Stewart Island, Te Anau in Fiordland and Maungataniwha Forest in Northland. One of the furthest north observations was made in Kaitaia in the Far North.

As part of GKC 2017, Landcare Research is hosting a national Kererū Photographic Competition closing 22 October. Great prizes include a kererū shelf from Ian Blackwell, Topflite seed bells, a nectar feeder and predator control tools. Entries are welcome via the Kereru Discovery Facebook page, and on Instagram and Twitter (#GKCPhotoComp).

The GKC is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Kererū Discovery, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington City Council, and NatureWatch NZ and supported by regional councils and environmental groups throughout New Zealand.

Learn more at:

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