Rooks are large black birds with strong beaks that are active during the day. They can be identified by their harsh “kaah” call.
Rooks nest in groups of 20 to 100 pairs, and sometimes up to 900 pairs in heavily populated areas. Nesting groups are called rookeries.
The first rookeries in our region were in southern Wairarapa in the 1930s. From 1985 to 1994 rook numbers here increased tenfold. Greater Wellington began control of rooks in 1992.
In the last ten years the number of rooks across the region decreased by 86% due to control.
Today, rooks are mostly confined to northern Wairarapa, but have been present in Ohariu Valley and the Paekakariki area in the past. In the Wellington region rookeries typically contain up to 20 nests. Control is necessary to keep these numbers low.
Greater Wellington’s current Regional Pest Management Strategy (2019-2039) categorises the control of rooks under Total Control. The aim is to have no active rookeries within 10 years of the commencement of the plan.
Rooks like to eat crop seedlings and this often leads to entire paddocks having to be re-sown.
During summer, when soil becomes hard and difficult to extract insects, rooks assemble into large groups and target these easy food supplies. This includes walnut stands, acorns, freshly ploughed soil (for unearthed insects), newly germinating crop seedlings and mature grains such as wheat and lentils.
Precision planted crops like maize, peas and beans are especially at risk.
You can help stop the spread of rooks.
What to look for?
The spring and summer months are a great time to look for rooks. Listen for the harsh “kaah” sound they make and look out for a large, glossy, purplish-black bird.
Rook - Corvus frugilegus
Photo: Rob Suisted
They usually nest in large pine and/or gum tree trees, or feed in flocks on pastoral land. Rooks are highly intelligent birds, and individual attempts to control them can lead to scattered rookeries and an eventual increase in numbers.
Let us know
So if you see one, try not to disturb it.
Note the location, take a photo if you can, and report it to us. Our biosecurity team will investigate.
Phone 0800 496 734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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