Eagles Nest is proud to be home to many of New Zealand’s unique and at risk birdlife.
The special geography and location of Russell where ongoing predator control has been very successful where amazing results are clearly visible. We are kaitiaki of the environment that surrounds the nest. With our little impact as possible on our many acres of Native Bush and working very “footprints” and working closely with groups such as the Kiwi Foundation, who regularly check and maintain pest traps through-out the property, this only makes way for our unique residents to flourish where we momentum to repopulate the Bay of Islands with many more of its former inhabitants.
By far New Zealands best known and iconic birds, the Kiwi is certainly a well loved oddity. Flightless, nocturnal and laying the largest egg for its size in the world, these remarkable birds are perfectly adapted to their pre-European habitat. Unfortunately, Kiwi have been hit hard by the introduction of pests such as the stoat and domestic cat and they currently number just 8000 in the Northland area. Nevertheless Kiwi are resilient and have been responding well to repopulation and pest eradication projects where numbers are on the increase.
At Eagles Nest we continue to be busy with our Kiwi care. As well as our ongoing association with the NZ Kiwi Foundation to keep the peninsular predator free, we have also introduced our first Kiwi whare (house) with more being installed around the property in 2021. These cozy wooden boxes are especially designed to simulate a burrow and allow the Kiwi to rest, nest all the while offering protection. The boxes are also designed with a small viewing window (and ultimately will be fitted with cameras) to allow easy monitoring without disturbance but more importantly guests have the opportunity to have an “up close meeting” with these very special New Zealanders. Listen for our Kiwi calls at locations throughout the property.
Lesser known and even rarer than its Kiwi cousin, at present the North Island Weka remain only on mainland New Zealand in a handful of locations where Eagles Nest is counted as one of those. Many of our guests have easily mistaken this timid, flightless bird for the nocturnal Kiwi as they are active during the day. Weka were believed to have disappeared altogether from the Russell peninsular as early as the 1940s. In 2002, following a widespread predator eradication program, 39 Weka were localized and released in the area. The Weka quickly moved around and happily call Eagles Nest home. The success here will be used as an example for breeding stock for the future repopulations through-out New Zealand’s North Island.
Weka need little encouragement to flourish here at Eagles Nest. There is an estimated 30 breeding pairs and this is rapidly increasing each year. We are very proud of the fact that we are one of the few places in the whole of New Zealand where the true evening chorus of the Kiwi, Weka and Morepork can be heard.
The Blue Penguin or Korora are widespread around the coast of New Zealand. They are the smallest of all penguins weighing just 1kg on average and spend their days swimming the oceans, eating fish, squid and crustaceans only coming ashore at night to sleep and nest.
The Blue Penguin holds a special place in the history of Russell in particular, with Kororareka, her Maori name meaning Sweet Penguin! They are frequently spotted in the Bay of Islands swimming around charter boats and also around the Russell wharf in search tasty mackerel. Penguin numbers are very healthy in the area and this is especially helped by the constant control of stoats and rats who are well known to kill nesting parents and chicks.
The Eagles Nest beaches are home to many of these gorgeous little birds, and for several years now we have placed penguin boxes along the shore line to provide shelter and nesting places that are used year round.