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Saturday, March 10, 2012

#162 Pāteke

Pāteke pair on Tiritiri Matangi
Anas chlorotis
IUCN Redlist: Endangered
Location: Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand
Time: 1145 NZDT March 9, 2012

The pāteke, or brown teal, is a rare and endangered small duck. It reached a population nadir in the early 2000s at about 800 wild individuals, but thanks to the work of the Department of Conservation, and many dedicated volunteers and supporters, its numbers are rising. The main stronghold of the species is on Great Barrier Island, in the outer Hauraki Gulf. It has been reintroduced to Tiritiri Matangi, the northern part of the Coromandel Peninsula, and various sanctuaries such as Karori in Wellington.

Pāteke habitat on Great Barrier Island, 2008
The pāteke was formerly thought to be conspecific with the Campbell Island and Auckland Island Teals, which are only found on the subantarctic islands after which they are named. They have now been split into three species, A. chlorotis, A. nesiotis (Campbell Island) and A. aucklandica (Auckland Island). The two subantarctic species are both flightless, while the mainland species can fly, though not strongly.
Pāteke foraging on Great Barrier Island, 2008
The Auckland Island Teal population remains stable, as one of the islands in the group is free of introduced pests. The Campbell Island Teal, however, was until recently in an even more dire situation than the pāteke. Campbell Island was overrun with rats, and the teal was restricted to Dent Island, a pretty barren rock just 64 acres in area. The teal had likely been restricted to this island for decades, and probably numbered no more than 100 birds. Then, in 2001, rats were eradicated from Campbell Island by an aerial drop of pesticide, the largest island pest eradication ever successfully undertaken. Since then captive bred teal have been returned to Campbell Island, and probably made their own way over from Dent Island too. The population is now rising, and things are finally looking up for these three species of teal.
Pāteke on Tiritiri Matangi
A lot of useful information about pāteke can be found at


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