The Great Kererū Count (GKC) is about to take flight, with New Zealanders across the country being asked to keep their eyes on the skies to help build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is – and isn’t – found. Join the Count at

The 2017 Count will run from Friday 22 September to Sunday 1 October. The GKC is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington City Council, and NatureWatch NZ.

WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Livia Esterhazy said given the ecological importance of kererū, Great Kererū Count data was critical not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the vitality of our forest ecosystems for future generations.

“Large flocks of more than 100 kererū were once a common sight in skies over New Zealand – our ambition is to see them in abundance again,” Ms Esterhazy said.

“We’re encouraging New Zealanders to take part by counting the kererū in backyards, schools, parks or reserves. The information collected from this nation-wide project will be used by conservationists to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.”

The humble kererū is one of New Zealand’s most valuable assets when it comes to our native forests. Kererū are known as the ‘gardeners of the skies’ as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of native trees such as tawa, taraire and matai. No other bird can fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration.

Ms Esterhazy said kererū were distinctive looking birds. “With their large size and bright white singlets, surrounded by green and purple plumage makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines,” she said.

“To make kererū counts, people can use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone – whatever works best for the observer.”

This year, there are three options to make kererū observations – via or with the iNaturalist App available on iTunes and Google Play.

An online map showing all sightings and a ticker with the number of birds reported, will be updated automatically as the count progresses.