Saddleback on Rangitoto
Saddleback now found on Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto and Motutapu were officially declared pest free on 27 August 2011 and this has allowed the Saddleback return to these amazing islands.
North Island Saddleback are conspicuous and easily observed in regenerating scrub, forests and coastal forests. They call frequently, particularly in response to disturbance, and are very active, noisy foragers. They are about the size of a European blackbird. Saddlebacks were widespread at European contact, but rapidly declined on the mainland following the introduction of predatory mammals, especially ship rats and stoats. By the early 1900s, North Island saddlebacks were confined to a single population on Hen Island (Taranga) off the northeast coast of the North Island. A series of successful translocations was initiated by the New Zealand Wildlife Service in the 1960s, and there are now 15 island populations and five at predator-fenced mainland sites.
Tieke / saddleback can be heard on Rangitoto’s volcanic summit and throughout the bush on Motutapu. Saddleback numbers are expanding thanks to a few successful breeding seasons including the latest one. All the birds that were re-introduced to the island in 2011 have coloured leg bands, so look out for the increasing number of ‘island-born’ birds without any bands.