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Published: 2010-02-04 00:00:00

More than a dozen tui sightings in Hamilton during January are sparking hopes that the birds may be returning to live and nest in the city as a result of Environment Waikato’s Halo project.

Halo involves controlling numbers of ship rats, which feed on eggs and young birds, at six sites around the outside of the city.

Environment Waikato Hamilton councillor Paula Southgate said there had been 17 Hamilton tui sightings reported to the council during January – the first time since Halo started three years ago that birds had been seen that early in the year in the city.

"Given that tui outside Hamilton don’t generally come into the city to feed at this time of year, the 17 sightings are making us think that tui are maybe beginning to actually breed and live in the city.

"If that’s the case, it would be a sign the Halo project is really starting to pay dividends given that one of its key aims is to help develop a sustainable tui population in the city."

Another positive sign for the future was that rat monitoring at the six Halo sites showed rodent numbers were very low.

"That’s a good omen for future tui breeding at the Halo sites," said Cr Southgate.