Mysterious native bird probed for secrets of long distance flight

Experts from the US have travelled to New Zealand to unlock the secrets of a mysterious native bird.

Very little is known about the Pacific Golden Plover, or Kuriri except that their numbers have been dramatically falling.

"We don't know where they come from, we don't know how they get here. And we don’t know why their numbers are declining sharply," Jim Eagles, project co-ordinator told 1 News reporter Jenny Suo.

"Thirty years ago we used to count a thousand in our census ... now we've got two hundred. Something's going on".

Despite flying 12,000 kilometres to the Arctic where they nest, Kuriri are native, because they spend most of their lives here.

An American team has also covered long distances to reach the Firth of Thames, to study the perplexing shorebirds.

"Golden Plovers are making some of the longest nonstop migrations in the world, and we're interested in finding out how they do that," says Wally Johnson from Montana State University.

The researchers planned to attach satellite tags to ten Kuriri and find out why their numbers are dwindling.

With their first capture technique failing they left with setting up nets in the trees to catch the birds in flight.

With darkness came success, and enough tags attached to tell the story of one migratory cycle.

The team is determined to understand what changed in the Kuriri’s life cycle, prevent the loss of a precious species.

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Numbers of the native bird have dropped from 1000 to 200 in 30 years. Source: 1 NEWS