New Zealand's most endangered bird, the fairy tern, will receive a boost to their breeding season following the creation of three new man-made shell nesting sites in Waipu, north of Auckland.
It was reported earlier this year that around 40 of the native birds, otherwise known as tara it, were initially thought to be left. But an additional chick hatched in late December and then another two were born on New Year's Day.
The shell patch breeding sites is said to create safer places for the Tara iti to nest, protecting them from tidal inundation and sand blow.
These shell patches will contain 130 tonnes of locally sourced shell, transported by helicopter into the new and safer sites.
"Other than predator control, habitat enhancement is the most important action that can be taken to ensure the tara iti's survival," said Linda Guzik of Shorebirds Trust.
Fairy terns can't be bred in captivity because they're very particular about their nests. They can be found near beaches in Northland’s Waipu, Mangawhai and north Auckland's Pakiri.
"In past we've had nests impacted from high winds, which means the parent birds can't find their eggs, and king tides washing the nests away," Tara Iti Recovery Group leader Troy Makan said in a statement. "The new sites will be placed in the rear of the dunes, providing more protection for the chicks and their parents."