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Home » Red-fronted and Malherbe's Parakeet

The parakeets are breeding on Motutapu Island!

By Luis Ortiz-Catedral

Hello all: in my previous post I commented on how excited I was about heading into the field for the 2009-2010 breeding season of the red-fronted parakeets. Well, during the latest trip I was pleasantly surprised to find a family of parakeets on Motutapu Island and one of these was a very young, clumsy parakeet; a clear indication of breeding on the island. The good news spread fast and we had a press release to announce these observations in the New Zealand Herald ( and also Radio New Zealand ( The significance of these observations is huge because Motutapu didn’t have a resident population of parakeets in nearly 100 years! The conversion of the island’s forest to grassland and the introduction of numerous mammalian predators turned the island unsuitable for parakeets. Luckily, four factors came into place at the right time to “turn the tide”: 1) over the years volunteers of the Motutapu Island Trust ( have made tremendous efforts to restore the island by removing weeds and re-planting native trees. Such effort not only represents fruit and safe nesting sites for the parakeets and other birds but also public involvement in conservation; 2) the translocation of parakeets to nearby Motuihe Island (;  3) regular visits by members of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand ( resulted in sightings of parakeets earlier this year, a first indication that breeding would happen on the island; 4) most importantly the eradication of pests early this year from Rangitoto and Motutapu. With all these things combined the establishment of breeding parakeets was just a matter of time! similar to what happened on Raoul Island ( The parakeets are flying once more above Motutapu and this is a great reward to all  conservation volunteers from Motutapu, Motuihe and the greater Auckland region…and just on time for Christmas! This is a nice example of the great things that can happen when the general public, scientists and government agencies work together.

blogs from the field - parrot conservation in real time