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New Zealand is a land of birds. We might not have a large number of species – just 252 – but many of our birds are endemic, or found only here, a testament to the country’s small size and its isolation. New Zealand birds are some of the most unusual and intriguing in the world – they include the largest seabirds, the flightless nocturnal kakapo and kiwi, globe-trotting shorebirds and many more. Our Changing World has featured many New Zealand birds over the years, as well as the people who study them, and here is a selection of those stories.
New Zealand has 91 species of land birds – and 85 of them occur nowhere else in the world. They range from the tiny rifleman, a member of an ancient group of songbirds, to the kakapo, the world’s heaviest parrot, and include our unique flightless kiwi.
New Zealand is seabird capital of the world – 86 of the 360 species of seabird in the world breed in the New Zealand region, including 38 that breed nowhere else. And our shorebirds are world-record holders, too – bar-tailed godwits, for instance, are the world’s greatest migrant, making epic non-stop flights between Alaskan breeding grounds and their New Zealand wintering-over sites.
New Zealand’s young mountains and its fast-flowing rivers are home to rare birds with unusual lifestyles, such as whio, our whistling torrent duck.
Many of New Zealand’s birds are threatened and require a helping hand – and there are numerous conservation projects around the country aiming to restore habitat and give birds a safe home.
Producer Alison Ballance with a Fiordland tokoeka.
Birdwatching with This Way Up
Finding out about New Zealand's birds with birdwatcher Hugh Robertson.
Listen to all of the bird calls from Morning Report.
The Secret Life of Bird Calls
The first songs that echoed across this land came from birds.
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