Native Birds at Staglands Wildlife Reserve

Staglands Wildlife Reserve houses a large variety of New Zealand native birds. Each bird in our farm park is unique and very special to New Zealand. The native birds are at the heart of our conservation efforts and the main reason behind the opening of our park.

What are some of the Native Birds will I see at Staglands?
  • Whio (Blue Duck)
  • Kea
  • Pateke (Brown Teal)
  • Scaup
  • NZ Shovelers
  • Grey Teal
  • Grey Ducks

Further details about the New Zealand Native Birds you will find at Staglands…

Whio (Blue Duck)
Hymernolaimus Malacorhynchos (Whio)

The whio, found at Staglands Wildlife Reserve, is classified as a nationally threatened species, with current populations declining, and unless the causes for its decline are remedied, the species faces the risk of becoming extinct. 

Interesting Whio Fact! 
Whio are one of only three species amongst the world’s other 159 waterfowl that live year round on fast-flowing rivers, such as the one at Staglands. The other species are found in South America and New Guinea. 

Habitat and Distribution: 
A threatened species, whio inhabit the turbulent fast flowing high-country rivers of the North Island and nests in hollow logs, small caves and other sheltered spots, like those found in our wildlife park. Recent introductions of the species have been made to some rivers of Mt Taranaki. Whio are exclusively native to New Zealand – or “endemic” and have no close relatives anywhere in the world! We are lucky to have them here in Wellington.

Whio are the only duck species likely to be seen on turbulent high-country rivers. Its upper bill has a thick fleshy ‘lip’ allowing them to scrape off insect larvae that cling to rocks. Because of their slate-gray colour, whio are very well camouflaged around river rocks. They have unique features such as a streamlined head and large webbed feet to enable them to easily manoeuvre and feed in fast moving rapids. 

The Maori name for the Blue Duck is “Whio”, which is a rendition of the males' call. The male makes a distinctive high-pitched “whio” whistling sound – contrasting with the low rasping growl of the female. A great family activity is to see who can make the best “whio” call! 

Whio use their special bill to get at insects and grubs taken from the water’s surface or around rocks. The Caddis-fly larvae are a favourite food for whio. 

Whio nest from August to December. Their nest is constructed of sticks and grasses usually hidden under rocks, in caves, under logs or in thick riverside vegetation. A clutch of 4 - 8 cream coloured eggs are incubated by the female only, for 32 days. Chicks can fly when they are 10 weeks old.


Nestor Notabilis 

Mischievous and cheeky, these highly social “mountain parrots” have a tendency to create havoc by being very destructive to human belongings such as cars! But don’t worry our Staglands car park is perfectly safe! 

Interesting Kea Fact! 
These fascinating birds have been dubbed the 'clown of New Zealand's Southern Alps'. The Keas long beak is a valuable tool in its search for food especially in crevices in between rocks and boulders and for prizing off the lids of rubbish bins! 

Habitat and Distribution: 
The Kea is a protected species and inhabits the South Island’s alpine forests and mountains. They are not typically found in Wellington, but are very happy in their habitat at Staglands. 

The Kea has olive green plumage and a large and very strong hooked beak distinguishing it from its close relative, the South Island Kaka. Beautiful orange feathers can be seen under its wings when in flight. The Kea is essentially a ground bird often entertaining any humans present with their sideways hopping. But when airborne, they are magnificent fliers. 

The Kea’s call is high pitched with a rather raucous 'kee-aa' call, especially when flying. They also have a variety of softer murmuring calls. 

Keas have a varied and adaptable diet, reflecting the changeable conditions of their habitat. Mostly vegetarian, Kea love to eat; seeds, buds, foliage, fruits, nectar and also likes the occasional insect or grub. In harder times of winter Kea are also known to feed on carrion and can attack sickly sheep. 

Unlike other parrots, the Kea builds a nest made of sticks, grasses, moss and lichens, usually under rock, just above the bush line or in a forest clearing. A clutch of two or three white eggs is laid from August to January and males feed their mate whilst she incubates the eggs which may take up to four weeks. Males sometimes mate with two or more females. 

Pateke (Brown Teal) 
Anas Chlorotis (Pateke) 

The Brown Teal or Pateke, is a small dabbling duck species endemic to New Zealand and classified as nationally endangered due primarily to the impact of introduced predators. There are currently between 2000 – 2500 pateke living in the wild in New Zealand, making it the rarest waterfowl species on the mainland. 

Interesting Pateke Fact! 
Pateke could be described as crepuscular or nocturnal as they spend most of the day in the shade and become more active during twilight hours and at night. This behaviour may be precautionary because in predator free areas such as Staglands,they are active throughout the day.  

Habitat and Distribution:
In pre-human times, they may have been the most widespread and numerous of New Zealand’s waterfowl. However pateke are now mostly restricted to the northern North Island  Their present day habitat lies mostly in agricultural environments wherein the birds use occluded stock ponds as breeding and feeding sites and also margins of small streams that retain overhanging marginal vegetation. 

As the name suggests, the Brown Teal’s plumage is brown. However they can are easily distinguished from other brown-looking ducks by the narrow white ring around its eyes. Outside the breeding period, when males and females can be identified by their distinctive breeding plumage, they look very alike.
Male calls are soft, usually described as trills or piping, given in alarm and in territorial defence. The female has a rasping growl and a high-pitched and rapid quack.

Pateke diet is diverse. They feed  on invertebrates including aquatic insects larvae and even small shrimp.  In inter-tidal areas Teal dabble in soft sediments in search of food. They also extract flesh from cockles and small mussels. On freshwater ponds they have been observed eating the leaves of various wetland plants.

Pateke are monogamous and generally fiercely territorial. Most nesting occurs in late winter (July-September). Typically nests are buried in dry locations deep within bases of rush, grass or fern clumps near water. Large pale fawn eggs are generally laid daily. The average clutch is 5 or 6  and the incubation period is about 28 days. Both parents guard the ducklings until they fledge at  50-55 days old. The mature ducklings are then forcefully evicted from the territory on or about the time the parents start their post-breeding moult.

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