15 Apr 2016

Songs and worms lure robins to new home

11:57 am on 15 April 2016

North Island robins, toutouwai, are being reintroduced to their new pest-free home at the Shakespear Open Sanctuary in Auckland.

North Island robins are the perfect test subject for a study looking at cognition in wild animals. They can be very easily trained to do tasks in return for a food reward, and their nesting success can be easily followed.

Toutouwai, North Island robin, are being released in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

The first pairs were released last Friday and a further 20 robins are due to be released in early May.

Sanctuary chairman Peter Jackson said volunteers had worked for more than a decade to prepare habitats for missing wildlife and bring them back into the sanctuary.

Auckland Council's open sanctuary senior ranger Matt Maitland said volunteers had to train the robins to respond to song before catching them.

"They'll then come check out who's in their place. You then can throw sticks in front of them, which mimics the idea of invertebrates falling to the forest floor.

"You can then throw an actual worm to them and they'll pick those up, and so what they do is they get accustomed to coming to the cues that we give them, so that when we do that we can then lure them closer and closer to a trap."

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