Conservation Minister Nick Smith wants to rid Auckland of the red-vented bulbul, a bird listed as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species and a threat to our native birds. Native to parts of Asia (Pakistan to SW China), they've been introduced to a number of Pacific Islands where they're now a serious invasive pest. They can cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops, and spread the seeds of invasive weeds.
Smith: "The red-vented bulbul with its aggressive nature poses a real risk to native birds like the wood pigeon. These prolific breeders have been found in Auckland twice before and we need to act fast to ensure they don't have time to make themselves at home."
In the 1950s, a small population of about 50 became established between Takapuna and Mt Eden after some were released from a ship. It took until 1955 to completely eradicate them and, since the late 1960s, it's been illegal to import them. In 2006, a small number were eradicated from Parnell.
This time, the birds have been spotted around Manurewa and Alfriston in south Auckland, in the western suburbs of Henderson, Te Atatu and Massey, and the Devonport, Belmont and Takapuna areas of the North Shore. There have also been some possible sightings in Whangaparaoa.
The red-vented bulbul is a medium-sized bird, about 20cm long (that's the size of a starling). It has a black head, dark back, grey-white belly, and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath its tail. It also has a very distinctive call.
The public is urged to report all sightings to DOC as soon as possible, before spring growth on trees makes the birds harder to spot.
PS: 14 Nov.2013 - Bulbul reward now upped to $1,000!