The flight of the bellbird
The bellbird and its melodious song are renowned throughout New Zealand and around the world as a very special little bird, and once you learn more about this species, you’ll realise just how incredible they really are.
Similar to the greenfinch in appearance, the bellbird typically measures approximately 20cm and is found in all sorts of native and rainforest areas, as well as in the occasional garden, scrub area, or urban park.
Yet this hasn’t always been the case. The bellbird was in fact absent from many northern areas on the mainland since the 1860s, due to both predators and disease. For some time they only lived on islands such as Tiritiri Marangi and Little Barrier.
It came as a great – and very welcome – surprise when the bellbird was later found on both Motutapu and at the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society (TOSSI).
In Tawharanui, they were spotted soon after the completion of the predator-proof fence that now cuts off a section of land and allows such birds and wildlife to thrive without pests such as rabbits and possums.
It has been more than 10 years since that fence was built, and in that time, the bellbird has truly thrived. In fact, TOSSI workers have even been able to translocate some of the strong bellbird numbers into other locations for further repopulation.
Again in 2010, the bellbird surprised everyone by turning up on Motutapu Island on its own accord after not inhabiting this piece of land for more than 100 years. This was just one year after a massive effort was made to eradicate the island of pests, and is also in part thanks to the volunteers who helped plant more than 500,000 trees that would welcome the bellbird and other native species to the island.
The bellbird is one of the many special species we often see on our day tours to Tawharanui, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist