Colin Miskelly posted on Te Papa’s blog about his and his colleagues’ efforts to see how many Australian pelicans remain in New Zealand after an unusual influx of the birds in 2011 and 2012.
He provides a narrative of why the birds came here (changing conditions in Australia’s inland lakes), where they settled (most on the Wairoa river between Dargaville and Ruawai), and how many they spotted from the air on a 2013 Cessna reconnaissance flight (10).
I was surprised to read that a few had been shot.
First came reports that up to four pelicans had been shot on the Wairoa River south of Dargaville (just before the maximum count [of 18] was reported). Then one was found freshly shot near Meremere on the Waikato River on 21 May 2013.
May is duck-hunting season, but pelicans don’t exactly walk like ducks or quack like ducks so it’s hard to imagine they’d be confused for ducks. Certainly, pelicans are not on the ‘Game That May be Hunted or Killed‘ list (although pukeko and black swans are).
Anyway, it’s a lovely post and I’m a bit envious of Colin’s job (at least the flying-around-looking-for birds part). And I get to post a photo of Lanky, who was New Zealand’s only captive Australian pelican from 1978 to 2016. RIP Lanky.