Eastwoodhill is a welcome sanctuary for a huge variety of birdlife from around the district.
Depending on the season, it's possible to encounter over 40 species of native and exotic birds at Eastwoodhill who come to feast on the many seeds, insects and berries within the arboretum.
Walking on one of Eastwoodhill's many stunning trails listening to birdsong is a truly delightful experience.
Two species were introduced into New Zealand; the white backed magpie from south-eastern Australia and Tasmania and the black beaked magpie of northern Australia. These birds use Eastwoodhill as a home for the night from the surrounding countryside. A flock of these birds is fascinating to watch in the late afternoon with an unexpected family camaraderie. The arboretum is home to several resident birds, each of which has its territory. Known to be aggressive birds, we find there is still much other birdlife, the only bird often suffering from Magpie attention being the Australasian Harrier.
Introduced between 1862-1875 the Blackbird was quickly established. Possibly the most wide spread species in New Zealand. Mostly ground feeding for insects but also on fruits of Cotoneaster, Pyracantha and cherries. They aid in the rapid spread of these trees.
Black Shag, Great Cormorant
A partially protected native bird and an occasional visitor to the various ponds in the arboretum where it vacuums the water for carp that have been introduced as well as young tuna (eels) and tadpoles. They are easily disturbed and quickly fly off.
White Faced Heron
Ardea novaehollandiae ssp. novaehollandiae
A protected self-introduced native bird. A pair nest each year in a large pine tree along the Lane near the old woolshed, their raucous calls can be heard early morning and evening. They can also be seen on the pastures where they probe for worms and insects.
Putangitangi, Paradise Shelduck
Bred only in New Zealand and widely distributed throughout the main islands, Putangitangi were an important food for Maori.
Pairs remain together from year to year and return to nest in the same area each year. Birds can be seen in the more open areas like Burnside and Canaan.
A partially protected endemic bird. Pairs are to be found on the farmed area of Eastwoodhill, but they also nest in holes in the ground in open areas within the arboretum. Becoming a more frequent visitor each year and in larger numbers. Disturbance of this bird is met by a noisy response.
An exotic introduced bird partially protected. Many come into Eastwoodhill in the evening during duck shooting season. They are very easily frightened, and because the ponds at Eastwoodhill are not open enough, they never build up the confidence to stay in the presence of visitors as they do in city parks.
Parera, Grey Duck
A partially protected native bird and an occasional visitor to the ponds in duck shooting season.
Kahu, Australasian Harrier
A protected native bird. Common on surrounding farmland, scrubland and forest margins. Usually solitary but in winter they can have roosts of up to 100+ birds. Always overhead, searching for food. None have been observed nesting within the arboretum.
Another introduced bird in the 1860s which were initially slow to establish but eventually spread rapidly. Can form flocks of several hundred birds. Large numbers over winter in the arboretum feeding in the grassed areas.
Introduced bird in the 1860s becoming widespread over the whole country. The oldest Greenfinch recorded in New Zealand lived over 7.5 years. Sometimes over winter in the arboretum feeding in the grassed areas.
Exotic bird, native to Turkey east through Central Asia to China. A very shy bird easily frightened. Numbers are increasing, possibly in the absence of weka. Can be found in Pear Park and Glen Douglas.
Exotic bird introduced into New Zealand in the 1840s. Established at Eastwoodhill from a flock at Turihaua and Glenroy. In 1985 they numbered three male and two female. There are now over thirty birds and numbers are increasing. They may be now found in Three Kings and Pear Park. The calls in late winter onwards are haunting.
Exotic bird from North America and introduced into New Zealand in the 1890s. Very common though numbers vary depending on the wetness of the year with the death of many of the poults. A fascinating bird in late winter to spring when the courting procedures are being followed. Large groups move slowly about with the males all strutting, chortling and with their head colours blue at this time of year making them a pleasure to observe.
Weka, Wood hen
Gallirallus australis ssp. greyi
Native bird of four subspecies. Once very common, they have here, as elsewhere, become extinct in this district. Weka still exists in the Motu and Opotiki districts. The causes of decline are unclear but habitat changes and the introduction of predators such as cats and dogs may have contributed.
Pukeko, Swamp hen
Porphyrio porphyrio f. melanotus
A partially protected native bird. The range of Pukeko extends from southern Europe Africa, India, Southeast Asia , New Guinea , Melanesia, western Polynesia , Australia and New Zealand . It is believed to have been established in New Zealand sometime within the last 1,000 years. This quiet bird can be found along the stream side areas through Glen Douglas, and The Circus and sometimes into Douglas Park.
Spur Winged Plover
Vanellus miles ssp. novaehollandiae
A self introduced native bird it was introduced into the Gisborne district in the early 1970s. Many in the district, and occasionally seen on the farmland open areas along Burnside, these noisy birds are quite hostile when breeding and will attack Australasian Harriers and Magpies as they fly past.
Poaka, Pied Stilt
Himantopus himantopus ssp. leucocephalus
A recent colonizing native bird which breeds in temperate areas around the world. Often pass overhead and occasionally land on the open papocks along the Hihiroroa Road and Taumatapoupou Stream.
A common exotic bird. A small population roost permanently under the bridge on the Hihiroroa Road over the Taumatapoupou Stream but are rarely seen within the arboretum section.
Kereru, New Zealand Pigeon
A protected threatened native bird which was in serious decline in the early 1900s from over hunting and clearance of lowland forest. We have nesting birds each season. A strange nest, often no more than a few sticks thrown together. Many more arrive in various seasons to feast on various cherries, crab apples, magnolia flowers and buds of broom, Hoheria, tree lucerne etc. Fascinating to watch a bird soar up in an inverted parabola, reach the top, fold its wings and then swoop down again, often rising for a second soar. These birds are the source of the thousands of seedling cherries to be found throughout the arboretum. They are the major bird responsible for the spread of New Zealand 's indigenous flora.
Pipiwharauroa, Shining Cuckoo
A protected native bird. Removes an egg and lays one of its own in the Grey Warblers nest. In winter they migrate north to western Indonesia . Presumed to lay eggs at Eastwoodhill as the bird itself is around for a long period. Listen for it in summer with its rapidly repeated coo-ee.
Koekoea, Long Tailed Cuckoo
A protected endemic bird. Like other cuckoos parasites other nests. Over-winters in the Pacific. Visiting in season, but not as common as the Long Tailed Cuckoo. Not known if it lays eggs here. Song is a drawn out screech.
Ruru, Morepork , New Zealand Owl
A protected native bird. Present but not noted by daytime visitors. Several live in the arboretum and are active at night seeking mice and the Southern European Black Rat. Seen some times along Millers Brook, Douglas Park.
Halcyon sancta ssp. vagans
A protected native bird. Common in the arboretum and district. They nest in holes in the banks and rocks on the slopes. To start a tunnel they sit on a branch slightly above and several feet away and fly straight at it, neck outstretched and strikes it with the bill tip. They continue until the hole is big enough to perch in and the rest is picked and scooped out. Many visitors pass within feet of the Kingfisher's nest unaware of the presence. Loud screeching as you pass may well indicate the presence of a nest close by.
1,000 birds were introduced by the Acclimatisation Society for sentimental reasons between 1864 and 1875. Heard but not often seen, mostly to be found singing high in the sky over the grassed areas of Big Hill.
Hirundo tahitica ssp. neoxena
A protected self introduced native. Not common at Eastwoodhill yet large numbers can be seen at Ngatapa itself. Some nesting in ancillary buildings. A resident pair each on Lagoon pond and Reservoir pond continually swooping for insects.
Hedge Sparrow, Dunnock
Introduced in 1867-1882 by the Acclimatisation Society and spread quickly. A quiet bird, present in small numbers.
Riroriro, Grey Warbler
A protected endemic bird. One of the few birds to have benefited from human modification of the landscape. The female takes 27 days to build the nest of moss, lichen, leaves, cobwebs, wool, hair and feathers. The presence of this insectivorous bird goes unnoticed until time for it to rain when it sings its graceful descending tune.
Rhipidura fuliginosa ssp. placabilis
A protected native bird. One of the most common and widely distributed native birds and very common throughout the arboretum.
Another bird introduced from 1862-1878 by Acclimatisation Society. Present in small numbers, beautiful in song when staking their territory in winter. Many return to roost at night as the numbers observed during the day are not large, yet some of the Lawson hedges at night harbour considerable numbers.
Tauhou, Silvereye, Waxeye
A partially protected native bird. Because Silvereyes colonised naturally they have been classified as a native species. Silvereyes can cause considerable damage to grapes and fruit crops although they often feed on fruit already damaged by other birds. Always present in the arboretum in small groups feeding on insects in the branches. They also feed on crab apples in winter.
A protected endemic bird. Became extinct north of Waikato in the 1860s although a few male birds fly north over winter. Maintains the same breeding territory every year. Bellbird numbers have been increasing in the arboretum over the last few years and can be seen and heard most of the year. The Bellbird is more common on the coastal strip of Gisborne at Muriwai etc.
Tui, Parson bird
A protected endemic bird common throughout New Zealand. Tuis are the dominant honey eaters in NZ and can be quite aggressive around their nests and feeding areas and will push other tui and smaller birds out of their territory. A notch on one of the wing feathers produces the distinctive fluttering noise when in flight. Tuis breed in the arboretum, and always a few resident. Many arrive to feed on flowering cherries in season, (sometimes up to 16 in one tree), winter flowering Eucalyptus and also to feed on the Cornus capitata fruit in autumn.
Yellowhammer, Yellow bunting
An introduced bird into both islands in the 1860s and early 1870s which spread quickly through New Zealand. Large numbers can be observed in winter, and smaller numbers through the summer. They can be found feeding in the grassed areas.
500 birds were introduced in the 1860s and are now common throughout the country. Present throughout the year and seen in large flocks over winter and smaller numbers through the summer. Mostly returning to roost at night from daily forays to the surrounding farmland.
An introduced bird from North America, Europe and Asia common throughout the mainland islands. Also forms flocks of large numbers. One flock in King Country was estimated to have 10,000+ birds. Occasional birds in winter and spring feeding in the grassed areas.
Probably one of the most common birds in the world. One hundred birds were released in the 1860s and quickly became established. A small flock resident and an important bird that we would appreciate in greater numbers. They take the Cicadas on the wing and are possibly the best natural predator of these insects that are particularly damaging to young growth where they lay their eggs.
Widely introduced around the world. About 1,000 birds were introduced into New Zealand in the 1860s. A few nest in the arboretum by buildings or in holes in tree trunks. The great flocks from Gisborne pass by on the way home from the mountains to roost in the palms and various trees around the city. Flocks descend on us to feed on Prunus laurocerasus and the Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii' when the fruit is ripe.
An introduced bird from Afghanistan east through to India . Abundant in northern parts of New Zealand. Pairs stay together year after year and keep the same territory in successive years. Not common but found occasionally around the houses. More frequent on the roadside. These birds are closely related to the starlings.
Introduced over the years and move around the arboretum. A pair nest by the pond in Orchard Hill and two males cruise the ponds in Douglas Park. Ducklings never seem to survive the attention of wild cats.
Not a cross that would be expected. These large black and white birds are to be found in Glen Douglas. The birds are the size of a Muscovy with the same sound and walking habit yet without the red wattles around the face. From an op batch of ducklings that arose in the Turihaua duck coop in the absence of a Muscovy male.