Critically endangered shore plover numbers dwindling

Posted by Anita Froneman on 10 July 2020

A colony of critically endangered shore plover or tūturuatu birds have dwindled in numbers since the COVID-19 lockdown started. These birds are found on the Chatham Islands in New Zealand.

In February, 29 birds were relocated to Mana Island by conservationists in an effort to save the species.

The endemic shore plover.

Now, a team of specialists are trying to recapture the last remaining survivors, as it appears nearly the entire flock has vanished, according to The Guardian.

Three of the birds were tracked to Plimmerton beach on the mainland according to Dave Houston, leader of the shore plover recovery group, reports The Independent. The rest of the birds have simply disappeared, and might either have been killed by avian predators such as rūrū, or flown off, experts say.

‘The birds haven’t stayed at home like we hoped they would,’ Houston told The Guardian. ‘We honestly don’t know what is making them leave; but it could be that a single bird decided to fly to the mainland and everyone else followed them – it could be random behaviour, we’re not sure.’

Meanwhile, at a New Zealand shore plover captive breeding facility on the mainland, the first shore plover chick has been successfully bred. Kotahi Aviary is New Zealand’s third shore plover captive breeding facility. ‘Our shore plover team are very proud to be a part of saving this special shorebird from extinction,’ the sanctuary told the New Zealand Herald.

Image credit: Twitter/_everybird_

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