NIR Monitoring

North Island Robin Monitoring Programme

As a part of the Robin Translocation permit MIRO is required to track the dispersal of the Kapiti Robins from release. We know they can spread as far the Wainuiomata catchment and the Rimutakas so we need to watch out and listen for them in these areas as well.

MIRO needs people to look out for the robins and report sightings, particularly the band colours on each leg. This monitoring is best done in small groups of one or two people. As birds are extremely wary of dogs, we do ask that  these animals not accompany people doing the monitoring.  You can download the Robin Monitoring Protocol (a PDF file) here.

Binoculars are a great help with identifying birds and their bands 

Where To Look

All the tracks and routes in the East Harbour Regional Park are a good starting point.

North Island Robins tend to be found more in the gullies than the ridges.

Bait station lines will be a good place to look for the fitter and more adventurous people.

Attracting The Birds

Talk and act as you normally do while walking in the Park.

Clapping and breaking small sticks may attract birds (this was how they were trained on Kapiti).

Stop, look and listen every 50m (birds may not appear for a few minutes at each stop). Clap and break sticks while waiting.

If you have and use a tape with North Island Robin calls on it,  play it sparingly as it may chase away nervous birds in their new surroundings.

When A Bird Appears

Scrape the ground (and if possible clear ground cover to expose grubs) and move 2-3 metres away.

Lobbing small, short sticks (e.g. twigs) into the cleared area will help attact a bird to that spot (may take up to 5 or more minutes).

Move slowly with no sudden movements while the bird is on the ground. A bird will come very close while being fed but if frightened they will be very hard to convince to feed from us again.

If you have meal worms feed the bird one or two at a time and only for as long as they continue to eat them. Stop if they start flying off  to cache them in a tree or fern for eating later (IF it can remember it did this, and if it can find them!). In the breeding season (from August) it could also mean it is feeding a nesting female.

Meals worms are available from the following people: Owen Spearpoint, Reg Cotter, and Jan Heine. Small pottles of the grub can be bought from local pet supplies.

Bird Identification

Both legs are used to identify the banding combination - remember to picture yourself facing the same direction as the bird to confirm which is LEFT and which is RIGHT. If the bird is facing you then the bird's left leg will be on your right and vice versa.

Bands are recorded top to bottom eg Pink (over) metal or P/M - the metal bands have a unique serial number given only to that bird.

There are three groups of North Island Robins in the Park:

  • Birds captured near Wanganui in 2008. RIGHT leg will be P/M
  • Birds captured on Kapiti 2011 and 2012 LEFT leg will be P/M
  • (Note: Birds released in the Wainuiomata catchment later in 2011 will have a different colour/metal combination.)

    The two colour bands on the other leg can be one of 63 combinations.
    These tell us the condition of the bird when caught, whether it was paired with another bird and the possible sex of the bird but this is not an accurate assessment but an educated guess.

Sighting Reports

We need the following information on sightings:


  • Date
  • Time
  • Banded or Unbanded
  • Band Colours (e.g. Left Y/B - Yellow/Blue, then Right P/M - Pink/Metal)
  • Where - as accurate as possible for mapping purposes (e.g. "Butterfly Creek area" is too broad, "Junction Muritai and McKenzie Tracks" is fine)


  • Photograph(s)
  • The bird(s) behaviour (e.g. "Two birds, one feeding and one hanging back")

Owen Spearpoint is the NIR Coordinator for MIRO's monitoring work. A special email address - NIR -  has been set up to ensure your report goes direct to the NIR Coordinator

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