News article

Learning about NZ Birds and the pests that threaten them - 28 October 2020

Te Kura O Take Kārara from Wānaka visited today as part of their school camp excursion. It was a pleasure to feed the minds of the year 5 and 6 learners from weka with the focus of the visit on birds and pests. We noted the success of introduced pests to New Zealand and the adaptations that these species such as rats, mustelids and possums have made in their new environment. Observation of the chew marker tabs, tunnels, bait stations and traps and how we manage these pests in NZ native ecoystems was explored. Becoming pest detectives the students identified the foot prints of pests that had left their identifying marks on tunnel tracker cards. Learning facts on each of the pest species was tested with a quick quiz at the end. Exploring the restoration forest and kahikatea swamp forest we spotted a white faced heron /matukumoana, bellbirds /korimako, fantail / pīwakawaka, scaup /papango, mallard ducks (one mother with about 10 or 11 ducklings), starlings, sparrows and tui. In the heart of the kahikatea swamp forest we were very quiet, tuning in to hear korimako, tui and grey warbler / riroriro. We learnt about the fernbird /matata and talked about planting trees for bird habitat creation, to provide nest building sites and materials, and food (both the plants themselves and the insects that live in the forest). In the education centre we mimicked many birds using different beak tools to think about how NZs variety of birds have adapted different beak features, gave “the moa” some tī kōuka feathers and matched the birds with the pictures – including many that are found locally but weren’t seen today such as the silver eye /tauhou. Telling how the shining cuckoo /pīpīwharauroa flies in and lays its eggs in the nest of the riroriro for it to nurture and bring up was a surprising story of nature for many. This class had great inquiring minds, and once back at school may very well become pest detectives.