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  • New Zealand birds have evolved in isolation from other countries over millions of years. The arrival of humans in New Zealand brought many threats to these bird species, including the introduction of mammalian predators, vegetation being burned to clear land, which destroyed vast areas of birds’ habitats, and birds being eaten by early settlers.

    Over a period of time, certain bird species have become critically endangered or extinct as a result of predation and habitat loss. Other bird species have survived because they have been able to adapt to different habitats and diets. Still others exist with the aid of a protected environment, such as the kākā.

    Conservation is important in maintaining biodiversity, which sustains ecosystems, preventing the loss of genetic material from the gene pool and recognising the value that certain species have to people.

    Our resources look at the threats to our endemic birds in particular and explore different types of conservation techniques and methods of predator control.

    Science concepts

    Conserving native birds covers three key science concepts:

    Meet our scientist

    John Innes works on a wide range of restoration projects. These include getting tūī and bellbirds back into Hamilton and surrounding environments. Local government has used research he has been involved in on tūī movements, behaviour and nesting success to develop the Hamilton Halo project.

    Take up the challenge

    Student activities form an important part in our collection of resources on conserving our native birds. Educators may wish to start with this unit plan. Kim MacPherson, the teacher behind these resources shares how she used Conserving native birds to teach active reading in this article and in this PLD webinar.

    Hands-on activities include Exploring genetic variation and Making a tracking tunnel. The New Zealand bush ecosystem and Classifying bird adaptations activities use cards and literacy techniques to explore key science concepts. Ethics in bird conservation provides issues for robust science debate.

    Can we make New Zealand pest-free? is a series of lesson plans that involve students in the quest to conserve our native species.

    Read about students taking action for bird conservation in the Connected article Bringing back the birdsong.

    The recorded PLD webinars Pest detectives and Eco-explorers use Department of Conservation and Hub resources to help teachers scaffold student learning opportunities and ecological investigations.

    Meet our native ducks

    The Hub has a set of resources featuring some our aquatic bird species. Introducing New Zealand ducks introduces nine duck species, including endemic, native, naturalised and introduced species. Learn about ducks' conservation status in Who's who in the duck world. Use knowledge about the ducks in the activities Duck dominoes, Which duck is which? and Mixing and matching ducks.

    Fantastic whio feathers and the activity Whio feathers - what are they for? explores the functions and adaptations of duck feathers.

    Watch archived teacher PLD webinars to learn about conservation inquiry, using the whio as a context: Diving into inquiry with whio, Why learn about whio?, Inquiry outside the classroom and Taking action for conservation.

    Meet the takahē

    The Hub has extensive resources on the takahē – a true conservation icon! Takahē – an introduction provides an overview of the resources. They cover key biological concepts including ecological niche, evolutionary history, population biology and population genetics. Nothing was known about takahē when they were rediscovered, so conservation efforts have been trialled and adapted over the years. Although their population numbers are on the rise, takahē still face many threats.

    Use information from the articles to complete the student activities. Abiotic and biotic factors for takahē explores the interrelationships associated with takahē and the Murchison Mountains environment.

    The interactive – Planning pathways using takahē resources groups resources from the Hub and ZEALANDIA, including resources designed specifically for senior biology Achievement Standard AS91158.

    Connected content

    Read about students taking action for bird conservation in the Connected article Bringing back the birdsong. These Connected articles feature the importance of observation and data collection: The takeaway table, What Alice saw and Keep your cat inside.

    Professional learning development

    Explore the science concepts that underpin knowledge and understanding about birds and their structure, function and adaptations.

    Citizen science projects

    Check out these citizen science projects New Zealand Garden Bird Survey, eBird, Kea Database and The Great Kererū Count to see how you could help.

    Related collection

    The Science Learning Hub team has curated an introductory collection of resources to help teach about bird conservation. Login to make this collection part of your private collection, just click on the copy icon. You can then add additional content, notes and make other changes. Registering an account for the Science Learning Hubs is easy and free – sign up with your email address or Google account. Look for the Sign up button at the top of each page.

    Useful links

    Check out our Native birds and Duck duck go! boards on Pinterest for loads of resource ideas.

    See the Department of Conservation report Conservation Status of NZ Birds, 2016, the first update since 2012.

    This video uses data collected on the eBird website to show the distribution of kākā in Wellington between 2004 - 2014. Look how the number of sightings have increased!

    The WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards winning entries showcase innovative technological advances, such as Trap Minder, CatTracker and new bird song recognition software. These will all help with the conservation efforts for our native birds. Find out more in this 2014 news story and video.

    Watch this video from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research The tūī story.

      Published 8 July 2010, Updated 11 February 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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