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#24 The Flock

10 Points

Make your own brilliantly blinged-up braided river bird and join The Flock!

Read the instructions

Categories:

See also

For more on our taonga braided rivers and how to look after them check out:

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What to do

Your mission is:

Design and make a cut-out braided river bird to join the Wild Eyes digital flock (or send your bird to join The Flock in real life) and help spread the word about our magnificent manu (birds).
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1. BRAIDS ARE COOL

And not just in your hair! NZ’s South Island is an international hot-spot for braided rivers: shallow channels of water flowing down from the Southern Alps through  ever-changing gravel beds.

Aotearoa’s birds have adapted to the dynamic environment in amazing ways e.g. by having long legs, camouflaged eggs … and crooked beaks. (Photo by Lloyd Homer, GNS Science)

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2. FLIPPING FANTASTIC

One of these animals is the wrybill (aka ngutuparore). The wee bird is the only bird in the world with a bill that’s bent sideways, which it uses to look for insects and grubs under river stones. Sometimes it can flip 100 stones per minute = cross-bill-fit!

It only breeds in the South Island’s braided rivers, before heading up north for winter.

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3. SPACE INVADERS

A bent bill is a pretty good superpower for finding kai in a swift river, but unfortunately it’s no good vs many of the things us humans brought with us when when arrived in NZ:  including egg-eating pests and nest-squishing 4WD tyres and motorbikes ...

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4. BRAID AID

Now, because of these threats, some of these birds are faced with extinction. We reckon more people should know and care about these awesomely-adapted animals, which is where you come in!

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5. CUT IT OUT!

Make your own braided river bird to remind others about our precious NZ bird life. Download a template for your magnificent manu (bird) from here. Then print it out and trace on to cardboard, wood or paper (OR draw your own design if you prefer). 

Cut it out using your scissors, craft knife or jig-saw (must have an adult handy for the jig-saw!)

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6. BLING UP YOUR BIRD

Design, decorate, bling-up and craft your flock member and make it a swag stilt, original oystercatcher, stylish seagull or a wonderfully whacky wrybill.

See if it can make your mates and whānau open their wild eyes!

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7. WRYBILL WARNING SIGN!

Give your flock member a superpower like a super-bright colour to warn off cats and 4WDs.

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8. GET GROUNDED

Not that sort of grounded ...! Add a wooden stake or a pair of legs to your cut-out bird so you can stick it into the ground. A stiff wire or a kebab stick could do the trick (you might need something sturdier if you've used wood for your bird's body).

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9. JOIN THE FLOCK

Take a photo of your brilliant braided river bird and upload to this page, it'll join the Wild Eyes digital flock. 

If it's made of corflute or wood (cardboard isn't so good in the rain!), you can send it (or drop it off) to join the growing real life Flock that travels all over the country raising awareness about these unique New Zealanders.

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10. MAKE YOUR BIRD A SPOKESBIRD

Help our taonga braided river birds by spreading the word about their awesomeness and the things we can do to help (e.g. don't drive over their nests, trap predators!) 

Maybe start your own Flock and show it off at your school or local park to draw attention to our manu mates! 

What's happening?

BRAIDED BEAUTY

Rivers are the veins of our planet, channeling one of the most important life-sustaining elements from the mountains to the sea: water! And braided rivers are some of the most unique river systems: dynamic, fast-flowing fingers of water working through ever-shifting gravel beds.

Aotearoa is a global hot-spot and they're found mostly in Canterbury, South Island, with names like 'Waimakariri', 'Rangitata', and 'Hurunui'. 

SPECIAL SKILLS UNIT

Just like the landscape is found nowhere else in the world, so are many of the insects, fish, reptiles, plants and birds, who have developed special skills to live there.

These include black stilt, black-billed gull (the rarest gull in the world), wrybill, black-fronted tern, and dotterel. Check out the long legs and beak on the black stilt (kakī) … like built-in waders and chop-sticks for picking out kai in the running water!

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– Daddy long legs

CAMO EGGS

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– Spot the wrybill eggs

Some of these birds have next-level camouflage tricks. See if you can find the wrybill egg in the picture. Hard eh?

BUT ... LOOK OUT FOR MRS TIGGYWINKLE!

The camouflage is a sweet defence against airborne predators like kahu (hawks) and kārearea (falcon), but unfortunately it’s not so great against introduced predators that people brought with us to Aotearoa.

These guys hunt on the ground like rats, stoats, cats and dogs, motorbikes (!), and ... Mrs Tiggywinkle (yes, the humble hedgehog is a major introduced pest for the beautiful braided river birds). 

WISE UP ON THE WRYBILL

Watch this vid to learn all about the unique wrybill, the threats it faces, and what you can do to help.

Inspiration

EPIC BRAIDS

Watch this spectacular drone footage of the Wilkins and Makarora rivers to see the beauty of braided rivers from a bird's eye view.

BIRDS OF THE BRAIDS

And take the point of view of photographer Steve Attwood to witness the beauty of the birds that inhabit NZ's braided river systems.

THE SIGNS ARE POSITIVE

Your Wild Eyes DIY bird and the rest of The Flock can make a real difference for these special taonga.

This is a sign that Asburton Borough School Greenies Group made to help generate awareness that the braided rivers are homes to the endangered black-billed gull. They were put up in one of the only places in the world that the gulls nest to let 4WD and motorcyclists know to look out for our manu (bird) mates. 

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– Only their bill is black, but these guys are as unique to NZ as the All Blacks

 

GET A JOB

Caring for these manu could lead to a pretty cool career, watch this video and learn about the awesome team looking after the endangered black stilt (kakī).

What other members have done:

#24 The Flock

My birdy

My birdy

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CrAzY
My bird is the big red one with the orange beak at the front
#24 The Flock

Bird family

Bird family

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Junglegirl
My brother and I made these 2 beautiful birds
#24 The Flock

Bir

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By GalaxyDANCER

Bir

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GalaxyDANCER
I made a river bird. It was very easy to make and i also customized it. I made my bird pink and gave it a rainbow tail. I also used a stick for the stand. Me and my friends made some together.
#24 The Flock

Bird friends

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Outdoorexplorer 80
By Outdoorexplorer

Bird friends

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Outdoorexplorer
These are our little birds. My friend Tilly and I made one each. They are so cute!