Chatham Island pigeon/parea
Image: Ralph Powlesland | DOC 

Introduction

Although similar in appearance to the New Zealand pigeon, the Chatham Island pigeon is about 20% heavier, making it one of the world's heaviest pigeons.

Highlights

New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: Threatened–Nationally Vulnerable
Population: Estimated 600 in 2009
Found in: Forested areas particularly in the south of Chatham Island
Threats: Predation, habitat loss

Sound recording:

Chatham Island pigeon/parea song (MP3, 1,278K)
01:21 – Chatham Island pigeon/parea singing, eating berries, hopping between trees and occasionally flying.

Species information: Chatham Island pigeon

Chatham Island pigeon conservation

The Chatham Island pigeon or parea (Hemiphaga chathamensis) is one of two species of native pigeon in New Zealand. It is heavier than the New Zealand pigeon, and has a red bill with an orange tip.

Tuku Nature Reserve

Due to the loss of much of Chatham Island's original forest cover, parea are now restricted to the south-west of the island, in the Tuku Nature Reserve and adjacent covenants.

The 1,238 ha Tuku Nature Reserve was donated to the Crown by Manuel and Evelyn Tuanui in 1983. Since its protection the forest has improved, providing more food and habitat for parea.

Predator control

Parea chick remains. Photo: Dan Palmer.
Parea killed by cat

Parea spend much time on the ground grazing on leaves and fruit, making them an easy target for feral cats. Cats, possums and rats can also easily access parea nests which can often be in low vegetation or on the ground.

DOC undertakes cat, rat and possum control within the Tuku Nature Reserve and assists owners of adjacent Conservation Covenants to do the same.

Unfortunately, sometimes traps set to protect parea sometimes catch parea. Considerable effort is put into trap placement and understanding parea behavour to avoid this.

Surveys

DOC carries out surveys during the breeding season every five years, to help us understand the population size and trend.

A survey found that the population has increased to around 500 birds, from a population low of 40 in the late 1980s.

Help of landowners

Landowners have helped protect the habitat of the parea by creating reserves and fencing remnant bush to keep out stock. Predator control has also been carried out. 

You can help

Sightings of parea outside the south-west Chathams are of interest and should be reported to the Chatham Islands DOC office.

Rekohu / Wharekauri / Chatham Island Office
Phone:   +64 3 305 0098
Address:   North Rd
Te One
Chatham Island
Email:   chathamislands@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
 

If you are travelling to the Chatham Islands, or transporting goods or livestock there, be careful that you don't introduce pest animals and plants or diseases. These could threaten the flora and fauna in this unique environment.

Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife. 

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • Check for pests when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set predator traps on our property.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.
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