Last week, Department of Conservation rangers brought an incubator of seven tara iti/New Zealand fairy tern eggs into the Zoo for incubating by our expert bird team, that was soon followed by a second delivery of precious eggs. 

The tara iti is nationally critical with a population of less than 40 birds, and has teetered on the brink of extinction since the 1970s. Tara iti nest on shell and sand banks just above the high tide mark and this makes them vulnerable to rats, stoats, cats, and other predators, disturbance by people, 4WD vehicles and dogs. They are also at risk from stormy weather and very high tides, which are worsening with climate change. 

DOC Biodiversity Ranger Shelley says, “We proactively collected seven tara iti eggs last week to help progress our rearing programme with Auckland Zoo, now in its third year. Days later, adverse weather hit the east coast causing the parents to abandon most of the nests which resulted in the team moving the remaining five eggs to the Zoo.” 

This conservation partnership between DOC and Auckland Zoo provides a great opportunity to progress new techniques for intensive management and recovery, like artificial incubation and hand-rearing. It also shows the necessity of having these skills and facilities on-hand, as in the past these eggs may not have survived in the wild. We’ll keep you updated on their progress!

Read more in DOC's release


Working together to conserve New Zealand's fairy tern

Follow birds team leader Carl, and DOC rangers Shelley and Alex, as they detail the conservation partnership that led to the hand-rear and release of a rare fairy tern chick