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Fledgling bellbird sighting something to sing about

A fledgling bellbird has been sighted in Hamilton more than a century after the species was thought to have become locally extinct.

Environment Waikato biodiversity officer Ben Paris said the credible report of a fledgling bellbird on a banksia with a male, possibly its father, had been received from an avid bird watcher whose Melville property backs onto a gully.

“This is the first sighting we have had in Hamilton of a fledgling bellbird since last May’s release of 50 bellbirds at the Hamilton Gardens,” Mr Paris said.

“Establishing a viable breeding population was the goal of the bellbird translocation and this sighting is enormously exciting for everyone involved in the project.”

EW councillor Paula Southgate said, “Since last year’s release, EW has received reports of credible sightings that would suggest wild bellbirds have been drawn to the area by the work of the Halo Project.

“The species was extinct in the Hamilton area in the 1860’s, so this is the first time in around 150 years that we have seen the emergence of a new generation in the area,” Cr Southgate said.

The released birds were brought here from Auckland sanctuaries in a project led by Landcare Research and the University of Waikato, with support from Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council, Nga Mana Toopu o Kirikiriroa, and the Department of Conservation.

Mr Paris said, “Fourteen of the birds had transmitters, however, as the batteries lasted only a few weeks we have since been reliant on public sightings of bellbirds.

“Prompt information from residents helps us to measure the success of our translocation programme and monitor where these birds have nested.”

People can find more information about bellbirds, as well as report sightings, through the Hamilton Halo webpages or by calling Ben Paris on 0800 800 401.

Meanwhile, there is evidence of several nesting attempts by tui in Hamilton’s suburbs, which is another positive indication that we are successfully growing the area’s bird population, Mr Paris said.

The public can keep up to date with latest news and information about the Hamilton Halo project to promote the return of tui to Hamilton at www.facebook.com/hamiltonhalo(external link) or www.twitter.com/hamiltonhalo(external link).

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