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New Zealand birds have evolved in isolation from other countries over millions of years. The arrival of humans in New Zealand brought many threats to these bird species, including the introduction of mammalian predators, vegetation being burned to clear land, which destroyed vast areas of birds’ habitats, and birds being eaten by early settlers.

Over a period of time, certain bird species have become critically endangered or extinct as a result of predation and habitat loss. Other bird species have survived because they have been able to adapt to different habitats and diets. Still others exist with the aid of a protected environment.

Conservation is important in maintaining biodiversity, which sustains ecosystems, preventing the loss of genetic material from the gene pool and recognising the value that certain species have to people.

Our resources look at the threats to our endemic birds in particular and explore different types of conservation techniques and methods of predator control.

Science concepts

Conserving native birds covers 3 key science concepts:

Meet our scientist

John Innes works on a wide range of restoration projects. These include getting tūī and bellbirds back into Hamilton and surrounding environments. Local government has used research he has been involved in on tūī movements, behaviour and nesting success to develop the Hamilton Halo project.

Take up the challenge

Student activities form an important part in our collection of resources on conserving our native birds. Educators may wish to start with this unit plan. Kim MacPherson, the teacher behind these resources shares how she used Conserving native birds to teach active reading in this article and in this PLD webinar.

Hands-on activities include Exploring genetic variation and Making a tracking tunnel. The New Zealand bush ecosystem and Classifying bird adaptations activities use cards and literacy techniques to explore key science concepts. Ethics in bird conservation provides issues for robust science debate.

Can we make New Zealand pest-free? is a series of lesson plans that involve students in the quest to conserve our native species.

The recorded PLD webinars Pest detectives and Eco-explorers use Department of Conservation and Hub resources to help teachers scaffold student learning opportunities and ecological investigations. 

Meet our native ducks

The Hub has new resources on some our aquatic bird species. Introducing New Zealand ducks presents nine duck species - inlcuding endemic, native, naturalised and introduced species. Learn about ducks' conservation status in Who's who in the duck world. Use knowledge about the ducks in the activities Duck dominoes, Which duck is which? and Mixing and matching ducks

Fantastic whio feathers and the activity Whio feathers - what are they for? explores the functions and adaptations of duck feathers.

Watch archived PLD webinars to learn about conservation inquiry, using the whio as a context: Diving into inquiry with whio, Why learn about whio?, Inquiry outside the classroom and Taking action for conservation.

Useful links

Check out our Bird conservation bucket on Pond for loads of resource ideas.

The Department of Conservation has released the Conservation Status of NZ Birds, 2016, the first update since 2012.

This video uses data collected on the eBird website to show the distribution of kākā in Wellington between 2004 - 2014. Look how the number of sightings have increased!

The inaugural WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards winning entries showcase innovative technological advances, such as Trap Minder, CatTracker and new bird song recognition software. These will all help with the conservation efforts for our native birds. Find out more in this news story and video.

Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research has a series of short videos narrated in te reo Māori and English, and a web page that explain the origins of the names of the tūī.


    Published 8 July 2010, Updated 28 June 2017 Referencing Hub articles