All over Northland keen-eared kiwi listeners are dusting off their winter woollies and getting ready to sit out on cold dark hillsides as the Annual Kiwi Call Count Survey gets under way for another year.
Kiwi Coast is working with community groups, Department of Conservation and Northland Regional Council to help coordinate the survey and ensure all Northland sites are listened into.
New projects keen to get involved are being supported with Kiwi Listening Training evenings at Hikurangi, Taupo Bay, Totara North and Waipu. Around fifty new listeners will be upskilled on how to collect and record the required data, and most importantly – distinguish kiwi calls from cheeky pukeko up past their bedtime, and the various morepork/ruru calls that can be a little confusing for beginners.
With all the hard work being carried out to ensure Northland kiwi thrive, it’s important to know if the desired result is being achieved. Are kiwi numbers going up?
Kiwi are secretive and nocturnal and it is difficult to count all the birds in an area. Kiwi listening is a surveying technique carried out at the beginning of the breeding season each year, that makes use of the territorial behaviour of kiwi and their calls to their mate.
Male and female kiwi have distinctly different calls so it is easy to tell who is who, and pairs will call, or ‘duet’ to each other to indicate they are a breeding pair.
Recording kiwi calls at the same site, year after year, slowly builds up a picture of how the local kiwi population is faring. It is heartening for many groups and projects along the Kiwi Coast to see their hard work trapping pests and taking good care of their dogs reflected in increasing kiwi calls. Many Northland sites now have 10-20 years of kiwi call count data recorded, providing strong information on population trends.
The Backyard Kiwi project at Whangarei Heads for example have used the data to estimate their kiwi have increased from 80 to over 900 over the past 15 years.
The monitoring method involves recording all kiwi calls heard over a 2 hour period on 4 nights. Special dates are chosen each year by the national Kiwi Recovery Group, to coincide with the darker phases of the moon, as kiwi are thought to call less during a full moon. This year the official listening dates are May 22nd – June 10th. In case of bad weather, there is also a ‘back-up listening window’ from June 20 t0 July 9th.
Groups and projects needing to check the survey dates, brush up on the Kiwi Call Count Survey Method, Kiwi Coast Kiwi Listening Device Instructions or download the official Kiwi Call Count Sheet can find it all on the Kiwi Coast website.
Good luck to all listeners – just get in touch with Ngaire or Andy if you need any help. Keep safe, keep warm and remember to send in your data to your Department of Conservation area office or your local Kiwi Listening Coordinator!