Great Kererū Count takes to the skies

From 22 September to 1 October, New Zealanders are being asked to keep their eyes on the skies.
The Great Kererū Count is NZ’s biggest citizen science project. It’s aim is to gather information on the distribution of the New Zealand pigeon — also known as kererū, kūkū, kūkupa or wood pigeon.
WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Livia Esterhazy said given the ecological importance of kererū, Great Kererū Count data was vital not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the health of our forest ecosystems for future generations.
“Large flocks of more than 100 kererū were once a common sight in skies over New Zealand – our ambition is to see them prolific again,” Ms Esterhazy said.
“We’re encouraging New Zealanders to take part by counting the kererū in backyards, schools, parks or reserves. The information collected from this nation-wide project will be used to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.”
The humble kererū is one of New Zealand’s most valuable assets when it comes to our native forests. Kererū are known as the ‘gardeners of the skies’ as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of native canopy trees such as tawa, taraire and matai. No other bird can fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration.
Ms Esterhazy said kererū were distinctive looking birds. “Their large size and bright white singlets makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines,” she said.
As part of GKC 2017, Landcare Research is hosting a national Kererū Photographic Competition from 22 September – 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).
Kererū are the only bird left in New Zealand that are able to swallow and disperse the seeds from our largest native trees. They can live for 21+ years and are essential for native bush regeneration.
Find out how to get involved – visit https://www.greatkererucount.nz/how-to-count/
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