Pukekura Park - its ecology and history - Friends of Pukekura Park New Plymouth Inc.

Birds of the Park

Birds to Look for in the Park

Black swanBlack-backed gullBlackbird, Canada GooseChaffinchDunnock/hedge sparrowEastern rosellaFantail GoldfinchGreenfinchGrey warbler,   HarrierHouse sparrowKakaKereru/N Z pigeonKingfisherBlack shagLittle shagMagpieMallard MoreporkMynah,  Pheasant,  Pukeko, Red-billed gullScaup/black tealShining cuckooSilvereye/waxeyeSong thrushSpur-winged ploverStarlingTuiWelcome swallowWhite-faced heronYellowhammer

(Click on bird for info from New Zealand Birds Online website)

The Birds of Pukekura Park and Brooklands

Pukekura Park and Brooklands are almost certainly unique among the urban parks of New Zealand in the number and variety of native and introduced birds to be found here. Their large area, wide range of suitable habitats, and great variety of native and introduced vegetation provide an ideal habitat for many bird species.

Notable among the many species of bird inhabiting the parks, either permanently or seasonally, are the native tūī, pigeon (kererū), kākā, and little shag (kawaupaka).

Some tūī are resident year-round and breed here regularly. Numbers increase significantly around April as other birds arrive in the parks from elsewhere in search of nectar sources to feed on during the cooler months of the year. Tūī are common in Pukekura and Brooklands from then until about October when most leave the area at the end of kōwhai flowering. While here, tūī find ample nectar in a wide variety of plants, especially the many introduced plants, that flower here during the cooler months. Recent studies have shown that introduced plants in the parks are particularly important as food sources for nectar-eating tūī. A surprising 90% of observations of tūī feeding on floral nectar over two recent winters were of them doing so at introduced plants. The most important of these are Formosan cherries (Prunus) and many of the Camellia cultivars, and they may be the principal reason why so many tūī dwell here during winter and spring. The maintenance of local tūī populations may well depend upon the presence of these food-source plants.

There are probably about twenty native pigeons (kererū) living in the parks and several pairs breed here each year. Recent studies show that they reproduce more successfully here than most places elsewhere. This is probably because numbers of predators like possums, rats and stoats appear to be low. The wide variety of vegetation also provides year-round food for native pigeons so they don't need to travel long distances to find other suitable supplies. Notable among the foods that kererū use extensively are the leaf buds and leaves, and flower buds and flowers of many of the introduced Magnolias here. Pigeons probably use Magnolias as food sources more in New Plymouth's parks and private gardens than they do anywhere else in New Zealand.

In most recent years, up to three kākā have visited the parks. They are usually present, off and on, from about April until October but sometimes visit other New Plymouth parks and gardens in their search for food. It is not known where these now-endangered birds come from, but it is probably from the largest North Island population in the native forests near Pureora on the Volcanic Plateau. The kākā are more often heard than seen. They have been seen eating a variety of flowers and fruits in the parks, but they spend a lot of time searching tree trunks and branches for insects and other invertebrates. Sometimes the kākā are closely accompanied by one or more tūī looking for insects disturbed by the kākā .

Little shags have nested in Pukekura Park since about 1990. The little shag nesting colony is unique in that it is the only one known in northern Taranaki. The shags nest in some of the tall tōtara trees beside Fountain Lake. They begin nesting in late August, and in some years they do not finish until April. Adult birds from the colony travel mostly to the nearby coast, and to a lesser extent inland, in search of food, usually fish, for themselves and their young. Adult shags can sometimes be seen successfully catching perch in the main lake. After they leave their nest trees, immature birds can often be seen on Fountain Lake practicing swimming and diving.

David Medway


Background on Park birds:

Why have Bellbirds gone from New Plymouth?

Breeding Of New Zealand Pigeons In An Urban Park


Sources of food for birds:

Another Exotic Nectar Source For New Zealand Birds

Kaka and Camellia flowers

Tui and Karaka Fruits

Karaka Fruits November 2010

Exotic Plants as Winter Nectar Sources for Tui

"The importance of introduced plants as a winter source of nectar for Tui in Pukekura Park and Brooklands"

Himalayan Dogwoods
Magnolia Fruits
Rapid Depletion of Totara Fruits by Tui
Tui and the Flowers of Native Flaxes

House Sparrows robbing Kowhai nectar

Feeding Association of Tui with Kaka

The effects of diet:
An Urban New Zealand Pigeon Nest - the Sequel

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