Keep an eye out for rooks

Farmers and landowners from Mangakino to Taupo, Te Poi/Matamata and Cambridge/Hamilton are being asked to report rook sightings for targeted pest control to prevent the wary invasive, big black bird from becoming a problem on farms.

Waikato Regional Council biosecurity officer Andrew McConnell says now is a good time of the year to start seeing rooks as it’s breeding season, which is when they congregate together.

“In the Waikato, rook populations are found in Te Poi/Matamata, Cambridge/Hamilton and Mangakino to Taupo, with rooks generally building nests in pine or eucalyptus trees.”

Andrew says rooks are one of the most destructive farm production pest birds in the world. “They feed on newly-sown crops and destroy paddocks by tearing them up in search for grubs.

“A large rook population can completely destroy entire paddocks. It’s definitely not something we want to be seeing here in our region.”

Rooks were introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s to control insect pests. The largest colony found in NZ was nearly 1000 nests but, thanks to control, such groupings are a thing of the past.

Waikato Regional Council has been managing rooks since 2002 and the Waikato population is now estimated at less than 50 birds.

“It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack for them, which is why we need landowners to give us a call when they see rooks” says Andrew.

“They’re also very wary so it’s important that landowners contact us if they see them rather than try get rid of them themselves. We don’t want to scare them; it becomes tricky locating rooks once they have been spooked.”

Last year, five rookeries were found and controlled: three in Mangakino and two in Matamata. A rookery in Hamilton was destroyed by a storm and abandoned.

Report a rook sighting by phoning 0800 800 401.


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