Angry Bird sightings drop since reward posted

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014
red-vented bulbul
BIG REWARD: Sightings of the red-vented bulbul have dropped.

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The number of red-vented bulbul reports has dropped sharply since the announcement of a $1000 reward, much to the surprise of Department of Conservation staff.

The bounty was announced in November last year as authorities made desperate attempts to eradicate the invasive pest from Auckland.

As of October last year up to five red-vented bulbuls, nicknamed the Angry Bird for their aggressive nature, were believed to be in the Auckland region.

The bird is listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and poses a threat to native birds like the kereru, as well as fruit and vegetable crops including grapes, berries and tomatoes.

DOC says the bird most likely arrived by sea from South Asia.

"They are kept for fighting and betting in India. It's possible they could have been kept as companions or pets on ships."

It is the third time since the 1950s that the red-vented bulbul has wreaked havoc in Auckland.

DOC biosecurity ranger Art Polkanov says the team has received a total of 270 reported sightings.

"As usual North Shore residents provided the best information.

"The level of environmental awareness on the Shore is much higher than in any other part of Auckland," he says.

The red-vented bulbul is around 20cm long and has a dark head, grey-white belly and a crimson red patch beneath its tail.

Since summer began Mr Polkanov says they have received few sightings.

Go to biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/red-vented-bulbul for more information on this pest.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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