New Zealand Rock wren thriving on new sanctuary13/04/2010 07:52:12 Secretary Island - First Safe Haven for Rock Wren
April 2010. Finding twelve tiny unbanded birds on the highest peaks of Secretary Island in Fiordland has signalled an exciting development in the fight to save the vulnerable alpine rock wren. A search by four Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers earlier this year revealed the unbanded rock wren, confirming that birds relocated to the island over the past two years have successfully bred.
New Zealand Rock wren
It is unknown how many rock wren are left on the mainland, but anecdotal evidence suggest their range is shrinking and they are no longer found in many areas where they were once common.
New Zealand Rock wren
Rock Wren are one of the most ancient bird species in the world, possibly stemming from a species present 82-85 million years ago when New Zealand and Australia separated from the ancient Gondwana landmass. There were once at least seven species of wren in New Zealand, of which only two still survive; rock wren and their bush relatives the riflemen. The bush wren and the Stephens Island wren died out since European colonisation of New Zealand. The Stephens Island wren was wiped out by the lighthouse keeper's cat..
South Island Robin and Mohua
Saving the rock wren is a flagship conservation project for BDG Synthesis, a Wellington science research company. Despite initial setbacks with establishing an island population BDG Synthesis have continued to support rock wren research and the attempt to establish a secure island population.
"We hope that we are wasting our money and that the situation is not as dire as many are saying, but this bird could disappear very quickly without the vision and tenacity of Megan Willans and the team at DOC," says Barry Dent, CEO of BDG Synthesis.
"Rock Wren are tiny birds, so they are very vulnerable to predation. Even mice eat their eggs and chicks on the nest," said Ms Willans. "Their populations are declining on the mainland, so it is important that we establish populations in predator free areas. We are confident they will do well on Secretary Island."