Feathers fly when birds a bother

Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013

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The irony is not lost on scientists - the success of restoring native birds to cities is bringing those birds into increasing conflict with humans.

Kaka, pukeko and red-billed gulls have been tagged as the three species most likely to cause problems as their numbers grow, and residents run out of patience with their noise, mess and nesting.

The Victoria University Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology study compared native birds in cities all over the world and found species that had a broad diet were the most likely to cause conflict in urban areas.

"A broad diet allows the birds to take advantage of the wide variety of often novel foods in the urban environment, leading to population growth," researcher Wayne Linklater said.

"Traditionally, native birds haven't been a problem in New Zealand cities because most of them live in our forests or by the sea, but ironically the success of nature restoration projects in urban areas may well raise the chances of conflict as more birds recolonise our cities."

Kaka are already damaging property, particularly trees, and have caused problems at Wellington's Botanic Gardens by stripping bark in their endless search for sap.

"Our study suggests that there may be further problems caused by birds in New Zealand cities as our cities become more urbanised and populations of birds with broad diets grow," researcher Kerry Charles said.

"The restoration of wildlife conservation where people live, work and play brings benefits to our community and quality of our environment for the future - and a measure of our success is that some wildlife will become so common they cause problems for people."

Ms Charles said the research would help manage the problems while bothersome species could be identified and monitored, and emerging problems addressed before they got worse.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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