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NZ's smallest bird headed to ecosanctuary

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Zealandia Ecosanctuary is planning to transfer 160 rifleman - New Zealand's smallest bird - to Wellington over the next two years.</span> © twitter Zealandia Ecosanctuary is planning to transfer 160 rifleman - New Zealand's smallest bird - to Wellington over the next two years. Around 160 of New Zealand's smallest bird species - the rifleman or titipounamu - are headed to the country's capital city.

Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Wellington is transferring 80 of the birds to its 225ha predator-free valley next March.

A further 80 will be moved to nearby Otari-Wilton's Bush the following year.

Zealandia is the world's first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary and has introduced 18 species of wildlife into the valley.

Conservation manager Dr Danielle Shanahan says the rifleman will be its first new bird species in more than five years.

"The titipounamu is an endearing little bird and an important part of our ecosystem," she said.

"Their call will help complete the cacophony of bird song we already hear in the sanctuary valley."

Dr Shanahan said the project was possible only because of the efforts of the community and Wellington City Council to make suburbs safe again for native wildlife.

About the Rifleman/Titipounamu:

* New Zealand's smallest native bird

* Conservation status is "declining"

* Named for its green plumage reminiscent of British colonial troops and after pounamu/greenstone

* Appeared on New Zealand's old $2 notes.

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