A tough season for robins
by Judy Gilbert

A locally banded North Island Robin.  Photo by Kevin ParsonsThe 2007-08 breeding season for the North Island robins at Windy Hill and Glenfern sanctuary has been much less successful than the previous season when 23 fledged birds were banded at Windy Hill and 11 at Glenfern. The extreme weather conditions right at the beginning of their breeding in July and August resulted in some birds disappearing and some birds starting to breed in poor condition having been a bit beaten up by the high winds. What must it be like for tiny birds, like they are, trying to protect themselves in such conditions?

More nests than usual were abandoned and higher numbers of infertile eggs lain. Predation from morepork took a number of chicks at Glenfern with rats also taking two nesting females. Just 2 nests out of 17 were predated by rats at Windy Hill but only 2 pair remained at the end of the season with three spare females looking about for lost mates.

Nevertheless eleven young fledged and were banded at Windy Hill and possibly two fledged at Glenfern. It is hoped that some of the young males from this season will make up these pairs for next season at Windy Hill as has happened in previous years.

Robins were identified at Mt Hobson early this year showing how far the young disperse. The odd un-banded bird also has turned up at Windy Hill which means that some birds are successfully breeding outside the areas managed for rats.

Plans are underway to bring in a ‘booster’ bunch of robins from Mokoia Island in Rotorua in 2009 —single translocations are often repeated to increase the level of breeding birds that ‘stick’ in the release area and to foster genetic diversity.

Keep an eye out for robins—if you can get close enough to see if they have coloured bands, they are read from top left leg down, then right leg down. Call either Tony on 091 or Judy on 306.