with two closely related sub-species in NZ. Fully
protected. Common, but patchily distributed
throughout the North and South Islands. Only
found on the coast, they feed on small fish and crustacea.
Breeding occurrs throughout the year. The
nest of sticks, seaweed and cliff plants, is in colonies
on ledges, fissures in steep cliffs or sea caves, usually
with overhead cover. The eggs, 2-4, are
pale blue with a chalky outer layer.
BLUE SHAG, (Stictocarbo p. steadi) is generally found
on Stewart Island, Foveaux Strait and the West Coast
of the Sth Island. This bird has a darker
STEWART ISLAND SHAG
FAMILY: Phalacrocoracidae Endemic
to NZ with two closely related sub-species in NZ. Fully
protected. This bird has two colour phases,
'Bronze' and 'Pied' in equal proportions.The conspicuous
white wing and back patches distinguish the 'Pied Phase'
from the Pied Shag. Found from Otago Peninsula
to Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island. They
only inhabit coastal waters and food consists of small
fish. Breeding is from July to September.
The nest is cup shaped, of grasses and seaweed,
cemented with droppings and in tight colonies on cliffs
and rocky islands. The eggs, 2-3, are pale
green with a chalky outer layer. Both phases
interbreed, producing either 'Pied' or 'Bronze' young.
Stilt Himantopus himantopus
FAMILY: Recurvirostridae Native
to NZ. Found throughout the world in temperate
and tropical regions. Striking black and
white plumage with long pink legs, which trail far beyond
the tail when the bird is in flight. Its
call is a monotonous yapping. Young birds
have a grey back of neck with some dark areas around
the eyes. Pied Stilt are common throughout
NZ anywhere where there is water, up to 3000ft. They
can be seen on lake edges, wet paddocks, marshes and
riverbeds, moving from inland areas to the coast in
Autumn. They feed on worms, snails, aquatic
insects and shellfish. Breeding is from
September to January. The nests vary in size
from scrapes in shingle lined with sparse grass to much
larger nest made of grass and weeds. They
are mostly in the open and sometimes in clumps of grass.
The eggs, usually 4, are coloured buff to
orange-brown heavily marked all over with black and
brown spots and blotches.
Stilt Himantopus novaezealandiae FAMILY:
Endemic and fully protected.
Total black plumage with bright red eyes.
The female is browner and the immature has
white below, black above with a grey neck and smudged
white face. The spindly pink legs trail
in flight. Black Stilt used to be widespread,
but are now extremely rare. Breeding is
confined to the Waitaki River system in South Canterbury.
They are mainly sedentary through the year
on shingle riverbeds and lakesides. Some
black or almost black birds are seen in Winter as far
north as Auckland with Pied Shags in wet, swampy
habitat. Food consists of aquatic insect
and crustacea. Breeding is from September
to December and the nest is a depression in the sand
and gravel, in the open and close to water. The
eggs, 3-4, are light buff to olive-brown, heavily marked
with black and brown spots and blotches.
Oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor FAMILY:
Haematopodidae. Endemic and fully protected.
Larger than the Sth Island Pied Oystercatcher
(SIPO) with 2 basic colour phases, 'Pure Black' and
'Pied'. The 'Pied' differs from the Sth
Island Pied by having a smudgy seperation between the
black and white and no white on the shoulder in front
of the wing. They have a narrow white wing stripe
and white only on the lower back. Many birds
show intermediate plumages between both phases and pairs
may consist of both phases. They are only
found on beaches and coast, throughout NZ and many offshore
islands. They feed on shellfish, worms and
crustacea. Breeding is from October to January
and the nest is a scrape in sand or shingle. The
eggs, usaully 3, are greyish or greenish, closely marked
with dark brown or black spots and blotches.
GANNET / Takapu
Gannet Sula bassana
Native to NZ, also in Southern
Australia. There are two related sub-species
in Sth Africa and the Nth Atlantic. The
size of a goose, these birds are often in flocks, diving
from high for food. Found mainly in the
Nth Island in Summer, dispersing widely in Winter. Breeding
occurs mainly on offshore islands round the northern
half of the Nth Island, the mainland colonies being
at Cape Kidnappers and Farewell Spit at the top of the
South Island. Most young birds spend at
least two years in Australian waters. They
feed by diving for small fish. Breeding
is from August to December and the nest is a cup-shaped
mound of seaweed, iceplant, and grasses cemented with
droppings, and in closely packed colonies. The
egg, 1, is pale bluish or greenish-white with a chalky
BLACK SHAG &
Black Shag Phalacrocorax sulciristris FAMILY:
Phalacrocoracidae Native, also found in
Australia and the Sth West Pacific. Fully
protected. A little smaller than the Little
Shag, this bird has a long, slender dark bill and short
tail, with no crest on the head. There is a 'scalloped'
appearance to the back and wing feathers. Only
found in the Nth Island, they are more common in the
northern half, on fresh water lakes, salt water lagoons
and the coast. They often feed in groups,
by diving on the waters surface for small fish and eels.
They breed in only a few localities, from
February to May, September to December. The
nest is built of sticks and grasses and set in tree
colonies, which are sometimes mixed with Little Shags,
Black and Pied Shags. The eggs, 2-4, are
pale blue with a chalky surface.
SHAG / Kawau &
Shag Phalacrocorax carbo
Phalacrocoracidae. Native with similar sub-species
in Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
Not protected. This is the largest
shag in NZ, with the white thigh patches and green-black
head plumes only seen in the breeding season. The
immature bird is browner than the adult, and lighter
on the undersides. Found throughout the
country on rivers, lagoons, inland lakes and sea coast.
They feed by diving from the waters surface
for fish, eels and freshwater crayfish. Breeding
is from April to May and September to October, with
possibly 2 broods. The nest is a large structure
of sticks, in colonies in high trees or rock ledges,
and lower down, close to or surrounded by water. The
eggs, 3-4, are pale bluish-green with a white chalky
Shag Phalacrocorax various
Phalacrocoracidae. Native with similar sub-species
in Australia and Tasmania. Fully protected.
Slightly smaller than the Black Shag with
black thighs and face, neck and underparts white. Immature
birds are blackish-brown above and white, mottled with
blackish-brown, below. They are found on
the coast throughout the country, but are more numerous
north of both main islands and Stewart Island. They
rarely travel inland. Food consists mainly
of marine fish, and sometimes they will feed in freshwater. Breeding
is similar to the Black Shag, often in mixed colonies
of Black and Little Shags. The eggs, 2-4,
are pale blue, with a chalky white surface.
Shag Leucocarbo c. carunculatus
Phalacrocoracidae. Endemic to NZ with two
closely related sub-species in Southern NZ and the Chatham
Islands. Fully protected. As
big as the Black Shag this bird has conspicuous white
markings on the upper wing, base of the wing and lower
back. The immature bird has a brown upper
surface with usually no white patches. This
is one of the rarest shags in the world and is confined
to a few small, rocky islets in Cook Strait, at the
margins of the Marlborough Sounds. They
are found only in coastal waters and feed on fish and
crustaceans. Breeding is variable from May
to November. The nest is built high on exposed
sloping rocks. It is a built-up cup of seaweed
and other vegetable matter, cemented with droppings,
and in colonies. The eggs, 2-3, are pale
green with a thin white chalky surface.
ISLAND PIED OYSTERCATCHER / Torea
Island Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
FAMILY: Haematopodidae Native
with similar sub-species in Australia, Sth America and
the Northern Hemisphere. Black upper parts
seperated sharply from the white below. In
flight there is a prominent broad white wing stripe
and white back from the rump to the shoulders. These
birds are seen from January to August on coasts throughout
NZ, in large flocks on estuaries, mudflats and paddocks.
They feed on worms, larvae, crustacea and
shellfish. Breeding occurs only inland on
Sth Island riverbeds from September to November. The
nest is a scrape in river sand and shingle. The
eggs, 2-3, vary from pale brown to cream, with dark
brown and black spots and blotches all over.