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Christchurch City Council Media Release 14 June 2000

Shelduck Making City Comeback 

The paradise shelduck (putangitangi) appears to be the latest of more than a dozen native birds making a comeback in Christchurch.

For years the paradise shelduck has been restricted to wetlands and wet grasslands on the outskirts of the city but it has now started to re-colonise suburban waterways, ponds, and parks, says the Christchurch City Council’s bird consultant, Andrew Crossland.

He says the ducks are reasonably numerous on larger wetlands around the city. More than 100 birds can be seen regularly at the Travis Wetland, Styx Mill Basin, and Brooklands Lagoon.

By far the largest flock occurs between December and February on the Council’s oxidation ponds at Bromley.

Mr Crossland says they probably congregate there to moult, as once a year, after nesting, paradise shelduck moult most of their body, wing and tail feathers and replace them.

The process takes about three to four weeks and over that period they are unable to fly and so flock together for protection on large, open water areas.

In January 1480 paradise shelducks were counted at Bromley.

This winter, pairs or small groups of paradise shelduck were seen in Beckenham, Woolston, Linwood, Porritt, Redcliffs, Clare and Sheldon parks and at McCormacks Bay Reserve.

"There is a good chance that some ducks may take up more permanent residence in some of the parks and remain to breed," Mr Crossland says. A pair raised a brood of ducklings at Beckenham Park on 1998.

He says disturbance and predation of ducklings by dogs and cats are likely problems but these can be overcome if people keep a protective eye on the birds.

Paradise shelduck prefer to nest in holes in trees.

The biggest local increase in their numbers has been noted on the Styx River, Mr Crossland says.

At least eight pairs nested on the Styx in 1999, a big increase on the two pairs counted in a 1989 survey. Numbers have also increased sharply at Travis Wetland with at least 11 pairs nesting in 1999, almost double the number the year before.

Further information: Andrew Crossland, 381 6103 (after 5pm).

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