Report rooks, council urges

18 Jan 2024, 2:39 PM

Kaipara locals are being asked to report sightings of an unwanted bird – the rook – after an unconfirmed sighting at Tinopai recently.

Nicky Fitzgibbon, the Northland Regional Council’s Biosecurity Manager – Incursions and Response – says a member of the public contacted the council recently after seeing several large black birds feeding in a Morton Bay fig tree on Tinopai Rd.

“The member of the public couldn’t get close enough to clearly ID them so reported it.”

Ms Fitzgibbon says a biosecurity staff member went to the area but could not find the birds, however, based on the description of them, it was possible they were rooks.

Rooks are native to Great Britain and Europe and were introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s to control insect pests.

“Rooks are an exclusion animal in Northland...they’re not known to have an established population here and we want to keep it that way.”

She says rooks – black coloured birds that are slightly larger than magpies – are unwanted because they are destructive to farm and horticulture, damaging plants or tearing up pasture looking for insects.

“Unlike magpies which are black and white, adult rooks are totally black except for their face, which has light-grey skin bare of feathers.”

“Juvenile birds have a black-feathered face. Rooks have long, pointed black beaks and dark-brown eyes. They fly with steady but slow wing beats and can be identified by their harsh ‘kaah’ call.”

Ms Fitzgibbon says the council appreciated the report from the person about the possible Tinopai sighting and if anyone sees what they think may be a rook, they should contact regional council biosecurity staff.

She says more information on rooks can be found in the Pest Control Hub - Rook

A rook on pasture.

A rook.