North Island robin
The North Island robin (toutouwai) is a bold, curious and trusting bird, often coming to within a couple of metres of people and has even been known to perch on a person’s boot!
Adult robins stand upright at about 18cm tall and range from pale to dark grey. The males, especially bachelors, are songbirds and produce a beautifully clear tune that resonates throughout the forest. The North Island robin is a territorial species, with males in particular inhabiting the same patch of forest - of one to five hectares - throughout their lives.
This species is only found in the North Island of New Zealand and has a status of ‘totally protected’. They were once widespread, but due to predation population numbers dwindled. As ground feeders, eating worms, larvae and insects, they are especially vulnerable to predators such as rats, possums, mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets), cats and hedgehogs.
The success of the pest control programme in the Ōhope Scenic Reserve means that it is an ideal location to establish another robin population.
Species translocation to Ohope Scenic Reserve
On Saturday 9 August 2014, 40 North Island robins were translocated from Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua to the Ōhope Scenic Reserve.
There is already a small remnant population of North Island robin in the Whakatāne Kiwi Project area. The translocation will hopefully assist the species to successfully re-establish itself in the region.
Why is the North Island robin such a good fit for the Ōhope Scenic Reserve?
Robins cannot survive in the wild unless there are consistently low numbers of pests. The Whakatāne Kiwi Project undertakes pest and predator control within the core kiwi areas of Ōhope Scenic Reserve, Mokorua Bush Scenic Reserve, Kohi Point Scenic Reserve and adjacent properties, which keeps pest numbers low and allows the forest to thrive along with its inhabitants. A species translocation of this kind would not have been considered prior to the establishment of the Whakatāne Kiwi Project.
The local community will have the opportunity to see a species that is rarely encountered in the area. Having a relatively tame, conspicuous native species present in the reserve will help to promote the Ōhope Scenic Reserve as a special place which is easily accessible.
It is hoped the success of this project will inspire and encourage other community groups throughout the country that are considering starting pest control and restoration initiatives.
Sponsor a robin
'Adopt a Robin' sponsorship packages are still available; the opportunity to name your own robin has proven very popular!