KCC Wild Things Issue 147 Winter 2020

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Wild Winter/Takurua 2020 |



Who Lives Where?


> Does NZ really have no snakes? > Which native tree are you like? For Forest & Bird’s young conservationists

What a fascinating question! For a small place, Aotearoa New Zealand has a varied physical geography. We’re made up of about 600 islands with active volcanoes, long sandy beaches, grassy valleys, glaciers and fjords, deep lakes, fast-flowing rivers, and snow-capped mountains. Some areas are really wet, and others are very dry. Some areas get really cold, and

others are near subtropical. We get four-seasons-in-one-day weather, and have more than a hundred different soil types! All this, plus our geographical isolation, has helped to make New Zealand a “hotspot” for biodiversity (variety in plants, fungi, and animals), and created some very unique species.

Did you know that… • Most ferns grow in tropical climates, but NZ has an unusually high number of them – about 200 species? • Our wētāpunga | giant wētā are the world’s heaviest insects?

Let’s explore who lives where (and why) further!

EDITOR: Rebecca



Di Leva, Dileva Design

Auckland • ISSN 2230-2565

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Wild Things is produced by Forest & Bird, Phone 04 385 7374, Email office@forestandbird.org.nz PO Box 631, Wellington 6140.

albatross chick. Photo by Rod Morris

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No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of Forest & Bird or the copyright holder.

What are habitats? They’re the places or environments where specific plants and animals live. A nōhanga | habitat is not necessarily a geographic area though. The nōhanga of the New Zealand bat fly, for example, is the body of our pekapeka | short-tailed bat. Male NZ bat fly. Photo: Birgit Rhode, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

Every plant or animal has certain conditions in which it will thrive. Some will find lots of places meet their needs. Some will learn to tolerate (be ok with) a variety of habitats. Others are so specific in their requirements that only one tiny place in the world really suits them.

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

The habitat of the Powelliphanta augusta was the Mt Augustus ridgeline, near Westport. Since it has been mined, there is nowhere in the wild suited for them. Photo: Alan Liefting

Can you name these eight NZ habitat types? Turn the page over to reveal the answers

Forest Full of trees


Marine In the ocean

Alpine In the mountains

Freshwater Water (moving, still, underground or frozen) with little salt in it


This puzzle comes from our friends at Dawn Chorus – the magazine of Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi. Illustrated by Michelle Gordon

Where fresh water meets the sea – and mixes

Maze: Offshore Island Isolated areas away from the main islands

Places with naturally low rainfall

Wetland Places saturated by water

Can you help the scientist find the moko kākāriki | elegant gecko so it can be translocated to pest-free Tiritiri Matangi Island, in the Hauraki Gulf?

DID YOU KNOW: It takes an average of 20 hours of searching to find one of these geckoes? They are well camouflaged, live really high up in the trees, and are hard to catch. © Timothy Harker

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird


Humans have done a lot to change the natural habitats of our plants and animals, including introducing predators like rats. Sometimes conditions will have got so unsuitable that a species will need to be rescued and brought to a new safe home to live.

Š Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

Clue Puzzle: What do all habitats need to be a good place to live? Use the clues to fill in the answers, and find the highlighted word.

1. 2. 3. 4.

Clues: 1 For sleeping and raising a family. Provides protection from predators and the weather. 2 Nourishment. The conditions for plants to make their own. 3 Enough room to live.

When our animals and plants have these needs met there is for their survival.

4 This liquid is essential to life.

Picture Puzzle: A good habitat will provide plants with the right combination of‌


Photo: Rod Morris

It’s all in the fee You can tell a lot about where an animal lives, and how it lives there, just from looking at its feet (or its feet-like body parts). They’ll have “adapted traits” suited to those habitats. Here are some New Zealand examples:


have strong legs with very big feet and claws. This makes sense given they live on the ground, dig burrows, and defend themselves with almighty kicks.

Photo: Janice McKenna

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

The muscular foot of a

kākihi | limpet

is able to bond so tightly to rocks that it’s very difficult to pry it off. A perfect foot when living on the rocky shore! Photo: Tango22 (wikicommons)

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© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird


Kumukumu | red gurnard are bottom-dwelling fish. The lower three rays of their pectoral fins are separate and finger-like so they can use them to “walk” on the sea floor!

Photo: Duncan Pritchard

Like other songbirds,

hihi | stitchbirds have feet made for perching and hopping. They spend most of their time in trees, and mainly get around by jumping from branch to branch.

Kihikihitara | Chorus cicadas

have strong claw-like forelegs used for burrowing, and then climbing up trees (or other supports) to shed their final exoskeleton and dry their adult wings.


pepeketua | native frogs

have little to no webbing between their toes. That’s because they mainly live in native forest habitats, not ponds. Photo: Sid Mosdell

Photo: Tui De Roy



Challenge Patai

Closes 19 June 2020

© Potton & Burton, 2015

© Potton & Burton, 2015

These feet belong to a

These feet belong to a

© Potton & Burton, 2015

These feet belong to a

These feet belong to a

Use the clues in the pictures to come up with your answers. Email them to us at kcc@forestandbird.org.nz and be in to win a copy of this fantastic pukapuka | book by Gillian Calder, illustrated by Fraser Williamson.

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© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

© Potton & Burton, 2015


Trees make us feel good too

Did you know… In parts of the South Island, tī kōuka | cabbage trees were planted by Māori as “way marker” trees to help direct people on journeys. © Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

We know you know that trees do amazing things! You’ve told us they… • Help you fight climate change • Make oxygen for you to breathe • Are a home for your favourite animals and plants • Give you food to eat • And so much more! But – Have you thought about how trees are amazing for how they make you feel? This is what our 2020 Be with a Tree celebration is all about! You’ll find that trees... • Bring you closer to others • Link to your culture and history • Bring out your curiosity and your creative side • Provide experiences • Are fun and drop-dead gorgeous!

Look over the page for our 2020 activity sheet


Be with a Tree Th is

rie together

This tree br in

ee l

od go


a ke s m e f

l ifu

e and my f

ā ta a h u a |

m ee r t

s nd

m gs

is ee r t

t au

Th is

5–14 JUNE 2020


This tree is ānau

This tree ho ld


© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

__ _ _ __


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emories for m m s

an my __ __ _ __


th er


tree h as i This



This tr


l au


I want t one op s i

ct te ro

This tre

Th is


akes me


m ee r t


avourite sh ad yf e


v e r s e e n!

Th i s i s t h






rs/fruit owe /fl es

or widest tre

ing bark/le


st lle

e st r te

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

Draw or write your answers in the circles. Share your stories with us at kcc@forestandbird.org.nz.


He rite koe ki tēhea rākau taketake?

Which native tree are you like? Are you tall, short, or average height for your age?


Tāroaroa or toharite | Tall or average

Where have you grown up?

Poto | Short Rēkohu | Chatham Islands

Do you like peas?

Āe | Yes

Do you like getting dressed up?

Reka | Yum! Kāo | No

Tawai | Silver Haki rā | How disgusting!

Ngutu kākā | Kākābeak

Horoeka | Lancewood

Spring or summer? © Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

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Kōanga | Spring

Kore | Neither

Raumati | Summer

Rautini | Chatham Island Christmas Tree


Ngahere | Bush

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

Beach or bush holiday? Tātahi | Beach

Ngā Paihau or Te Hika | Upper North Island or Northland



Rakiura | Stewart Island Te Tuakoro, Te Ihu or Te Waipounamu | Lower North Island or South Island

Kākāpō or kererū?


beech Miro

Hina | Grey


What colour is your hair naturally?

Whero | Red Parauri | Dark

Kōrito | Blond/ Blonde


Kahikatea | White pine Mataī | Black pine


Hardcore geothermal plants and animals By Nicholas (age 12) from Kids Greening Taupō Most New Zealand plants and animals are used to temperatures of 0°C to 30°C. These are the temperatures we generally experience in the every day. But did you know that some plants and animals live in places with soil as hot as 100°C?

These places are called geothermal areas. The soil is so hot here because of magma (an extremely hot molten rock) below the ground. This rock heats water below the earth, causing it to rise and come to the surface.

Photos: Sian Moffitt

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

If you go to Craters of the Moon – a geothermal area in Taupō – you will see pits with mud at the bottom. This is where the boiling water comes to the surface. The water combines with mud and becomes a boiling hot, bubbling liquid. This gives off steam with an odd smell from the sulphur that it contains.

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Geothermal areas are full of plants found nowhere else, because regular plants cannot survive the extreme soil temperatures. The geothermal kānuka looks very similar to the regular kānuka tree, but does not grow anywhere near as tall, instead growing out sideways. It survives the heat because of help from a special fungus called the dog poo or dead man’s foot fungus.

Photo: Phil Bendle

A symbiotic relationship

The geothermal tangle fern and geothermal ladder fern are also both very common at Craters of the Moon.

Photo: Paul Venter

The geothermal pools near Rotorua are home to the largest species of fly in New Zealand. The pekepekeharatua | giant crane fly has a body length of 3cm and a leg span of up to 9cm. Its larvae have adapted to survive in the hot temperatures of geothermal pools.

Photo: Phil Bendle

Geothermal areas are hardcore places most wildlife cannot survive in. A few species have adapted to the extreme conditions, and they thrive in this unique environment.

Photos: GNS

The native mātātā | North island fernbird lives in geothermal areas too. This is a small bird with a long tail. It is more often heard than it is seen, as it’s well camouflaged in its natural environment.

Photo: Craig McKenzie


How the land was shaped

The Battle of the Mountains

Māori iwi and hapū all have stories that explain why our New Zealand landscape and its features look as they do, and are placed as they are. One story talks of a great battle amongst the maunga | mountains of the North Island. Here is a retelling…

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ong ago, there were many mountains born near the heart of Te Ika-a-Māui (the North Island). They included Tongariro, Tauhara, Pūtauaki, and Taranaki. There was just one female mountain among them. Her name was Pīhanga. As they grew, the male mountains became powerful warriors, and Pīhanga, a beautiful fern-covered mist maiden. Tongariro, Tauhara, Pūtauaki, and Taranaki all adored Pīhanga and wanted her to be their wife, Taranaki most of all. They became more and more competitive with each other as they tried to win her affections. “You must choose!” cried an exasperated Taranaki one day. “But I cannot,” replied Pīhanga. “I love you all equally.” “Then we shall battle!” declared Tongariro. “The victor will be your husband. The others will leave.” And so the mountains fought violently among themselves until it was just the mighty Taranaki and Tongariro left. The two were so evenly matched that their explosive battle raged on for months, scorching and tearing up the land all around them. Eventually, it was Tongariro who bested Taranaki, and he and Pīhanga were married. The time came for the defeated mountains to go. They travelled as far away as they could in the course of one night, as they knew that when the sun rose they would remain where they were, never to move again. Tauhara and Pūtauaki went north and to the east towards the rising place of Tama-nui-te-rā. Pūtauaki moved very quickly and got near Kawerau before the sun rose. Tauhara, on the other hand, was very slow.


He only got as far as Lake Taupō. Taranaki decided to go south and to the west towards the setting place of Tama-nui-te-rā. In his anguish, he left a deep scar in the earth as he travelled. This filled with water, becoming the Whanganui River. When Taranaki got as far west as he could go, he met two small female mountains called Pouakai and Patua. They threw their arms around him as the sun rose, so he would forever be embraced. Tongariro looks longingly inland towards Pīhanga still today.

Illustrations: Margaret Tolland

form better habits around waste


Hi, we are the Rubbish Rangers from Normandale School. We’re out to protect where we live! We think that if you look at the world with fresh eyes you’ll see lots can be done to solve our waste problem. We might only be 11 years old, but even now we can make change! We fundraised money at school with a hot chocolate sale (with reusable cups), and with the money we made we designed colour-coded stickers for our wheelie bins and had them printed. This has helped us better sort our rubbish, and it’s saved lots of rubbish going to landfill unnecessarily.

Kate, Nicole, Sian, Sophie, Erin, Eliza, and friends with their mahi. What a great way to improve their special school!

How’s your waste-fighting mission going?




Forests are just on the land


There are forests of kelp in our intertidal zones (where the sea and land meet between low and high tide) and under the sea! Kelps are New Zealand’s largest seaweeds. They all belong to the brown group of seaweeds.

What makes them forests? Like terrestrial (land-based) forests, kelp forests… • Are full of plants that convert the sun’s energy and carbon dioxide into food. Even though they look quite different, kelp blades act like the leaves of land plants. • Have layered habitats within them. The scientific term for this is “stratification”. • Support other plants and animals to live. Smaller brown and red seaweeds and algae grow underneath the “canopy” of the kelp. Sea creatures like spider crabs, jellyfish, and sea snails scavenge and graze within them. • Can change the environment around them.

Bladder kelp is our largest kelp. It’s found in southern waters. It can be 50m in length and weigh over 100kg. Because it is so big and so heavy, it has gas-filled floats at the base of each frond to keep it upright!

Four species of rimurapa | bull kelp are found on North and South Island coasts, as well as those of subantarctic islands. These forests provide lots of food and nutrients to coastal food chains. This kelp can be 10m long and can live for 10 years! Photo: Ickneid Ridgeway

Common kelp is found in northern waters. It’s about 1m in length, and has fronds coming out from the stem in the middle. It is a favourite food of kina | sea urchins. Photo: tangatawhenua (iNaturalistNZ)

New Zealand has no snakes


This is a common misconception! Four species of sea snakes have been seen regularly in the waters around northern Aotearoa. They are brought here by warm subtropical currents from the tropics. The ones most commonly observed are yellow-bellied sea snakes and yellow-lipped sea kraits (also known as banded sea kraits). Because they come here naturally, sea snakes are classed as native species and are protected by the Wildlife Act 1953. Admire them at a distance. While peaceful creatures, they are some of the more venomous snakes in the world.

Yellow-bellied sea snake. Photo: Aloaiza (Wikicommons)

Banded sea krait. Photo: Underwater Sea Odyssey Rescue


The Seabird Capital of the World


birds Seabirds are or nearly that get all, food at all, of their sea.

Aotearoa New Zealand has greater diversity (variety of species) in seabirds than anywhere else in the world. That’s worth celebrating! There are only 360 species of seabirds in the world, of over 9000 bird species. Of those seabird species, 86 are seen here in NZ, and 38 of those are endemic.

ical convergence Trop

What makes NZ suited for lots of different seabirds? Our marine environment is really favourable. Our waters range from the warm, sub-tropical waters around the Kermadec Islands to the cold, subantarctic waters around the Campbell Plateau. The temperature of water around Aotearoa ranges from 4°C to 23°C in summer.

Where cold and warm water meet, they create boundaries (called fronts or convergences)

Kermadec East Auckland Current

ront f n a Tasm

West Auckland Current

Durville Current

Westland Current

en rg




Currents move along these boundaries, or split out from them and move around in circles (these are called eddies).

c pi


This creates places of upwelling. That’s when nutrientrich water gets brought up to the surface. These nutrients support the growth of rich smorgasbord of plankton and fish life.

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ro Subt

a Sub

tic c r nta

ce Southland Current



Also… The seafloor around Aotearoa goes abruptly from shallow to deep in places. This helps to create a range of different habitats as well, all within a small area.

So, who lives where? Whangarei

Kaipara Harbour


ORDER: Charadriiformes (terns, gulls, & skuas)

Tara iti | New Zealand fairy tern Photo: Rex Williams

Our rarest breeding bird

Tara iti is the smallest tern breeding in NZ, and the oldest known bird was 18 years old. There are only about 40 birds left living between WhangÄ rei and north Auckland, and less than 12 breeding pairs. Forest & Bird has been working to create an alternative breeding site for these special manu on the Kaipara Harbour.


It’s estimated there are 21 million tītī birds in New Zealand. That’s more numerous than even introduced garden birds like sparrows and starlings. The largest colonies of tītī are found around Stewart Island and the subantarctic Snares Islands.

Stewart Island The Snares

ORDER: Procellariiformes

(albatrosses, petrels, & shearwaters)

Tītī | Sooty shearwater Our most numerous bird

Photo: Alan Tennyson

Photo: Colin Miskelly

QUESTION: Our isolated, offshore islands are hotspots for our seabirds. Why do you think this could be?

ORDER: Sphenisciformes (penguins)

Hoiho | Yellow-eyed penguin Our nosiest bird?

Banks Peninsula • North Otago Otago Peninsula The Caitlins

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Photo: Kirk Serpes

Hoiho means “noisy” in te reo Māori, but is it the nosiest? This seabird would surely have some competition with kākā and kiwi for that title! On the mainland, hoiho breed in four different breeding regions: the Catlins, Otago Peninsula, North Otago, and Banks Peninsula.

ORDER: Pelecaniformes

Muriwai •

(gannets, shags, & their kin)

Cape Kidnappers • • Farewell Spit

You might have heard people or pets being called “a gannet” when food-seeking or eating a lot. Such is the reputation of our tākapu for liking their food! They breed at 24 different sites. The biggest is at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay. Other well-known sites are Farewell Spit, and Muriwai near Auckland.

Tākapu | Australasian gannet Our hungriest bird? Kermadecs •


Phaethontiformes (tropicbirds)

Amokura | Redtailed tropicbird

One of our Kermadec seabirds

Thirty-nine of the 85 seabird species seen in New Zealand waters have been seen in the Kermadec Islands. It’s a very important seabird refuge. The Amokura only nests in the Kermadecs. Isn’t its long streamer-like tail feathers and bright red beak striking?


World Albatross Day 19 June 2020 World Albatross Day is a brandnew conservation day. It’s all about celebrating these amazing birds, and bringing attention to the problems they and petrels are facing. This day has special relevance to us here in Aotearoa because 11 of the world’s 22 species of albatross are found here. This year, KCC has chosen the magnificent endemic toroa | northern royal albatross as our hero bird. It’s a giant – the largest seabird in the world – with a wing span of over 3m! Toroa live over 60 years and spend 87% of this long life at sea. Their only mainland breeding colony in NZ is at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsular. Toroa need us. Changes in habitat and climate are making life hard for them, as are some fishing practices.

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© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

Let’s all celebrate

What to do:

Represent the toroa on World Albatross Day by making and wearing this mask when you’re at school, at home, or out and about. You might like to pose with outstretched arms for some photos, or learn the “Save our Seabirds” song: kcc.org.nz/singing-for-seabirds.







© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

INSTRUCTIONS: • Cut out the outline of the face and the beak, and the eye holes. • Make a small hole where the two dots are. Attach elastic to fit round your head. • Fold the two flaps marked A down behind the beak, then stick flaps A to where it is marked B, following the edge of the mask.




Kūaka | bar-tailed godwits might be one of our most well-known migratory birds, but much about them is still a mystery. Ecologists like David Melville are working to find out more, including how they settle on their NZ summer holiday spots. Hi David, thanks for talking with KCC about your mahi! How long have you been working with godwits, where, and who with? I’ve been working on projects with godwits for over 40 years now, in New Zealand, Alaska, China, and North Korea. I work with other researchers who are part of the Global Flyway Network. In NZ, that includes groups like Pūkorokoro Miranda Naturalist Trust, Birds NZ (OSNZ), and Massey University. We’re all interested in understanding the ecology, demography, and movements of long-distance migratory shorebirds. That’s things like where they go and when, how they live, their breeding and survival rates, and what’s impacting all this. We’re committed to shorebird conservation as well, so it’s great when our work can be used to help protect these amazing animals, and help them to respond to big challenges like habitat loss.

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David “extracting” a godwit from a mist net. Photo: Craig Steed

Kūaka permanently live in summer, but choose two very different summer habitats to live in. Can you tell us more about that? Godwits go to the northern hemisphere between May and July each year to breed in western Alaska. They breed in the tundra, which is an Arctic habitat. It is vast, and parts of it are always frozen. The low temperatures and short growing seasons mean that trees don’t get very tall here. Willow trees may only be some 10cm tall! Some godwits choose to nest at sea level on the coast, while others nest in the high hills.

Yukon Delta, Alaska in May 2007. Photo: David Melville

Summer in Alaska is short and usually chilly, but it provides godwits and other species with great breeding conditions. There is 18–24-hour-a-day daylight, and lots of insect food. Godwit chicks feed themselves from the time they hatch so that gives lots of chances to practise. There are predators, like Arctic foxes and long-tailed skuas, but very few people.

Long-tailed skua. Photo: David Melville

Can you spot the kūaka on his nest? Male kūaka on nest. Photo: David Melville


Kūaka chick. Photo: David Melville

© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

Godwits of all ages then travel to the southern hemisphere in September/ October. They fly for eight to nine days non-stop to get to New Zealand and Australia. That’s the longest non-stop flight of any bird in the world. The adults return back to favourite estuarine habitats around the country. These are all places where freshwater and seawater mix, but each site is unique. They do lots of feeding over summer in NZ, especially on marine bristle worms, but also shellfish and crustaceans. The adults also prepare themselves by laying down a fat reserve, and growing new sets of wing and tail feathers (to handle the 30,000km round trip they do), and their breeding plumage (body feathers). Adult godwits (over the ages of three to four years) start their journey back to Alaska to breed in March. On the way back North, they do a four to six week stop-over in East Asia on the shores of the Yellow Sea. This has been getting harder and harder though as the land has been reclaimed by humans.

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Yalujiang, China. Photo: David Melville

Researchers mark birds with coloured leg bands and a white flag so they can be individually identified in the field. If you look carefully behind the left-hand bird you can see a thin wire – this is the aerial of a satellite tag on the bird's back. Photo: Phil Battley

So what do the juveniles ( young birds) do then?

How are you finding this out? Since the early 2000s, we started building up an international system using bird bands and flags with codes so we can identify individual birds. We have been doing it in such a way that we don’t have to catch the birds to be able to read them.


© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

They zoom around New Zealand and Australia checking out all the places, like they are on their big OE. One of our projects is finding out how they settle on their favourite summer holiday spot to return to.

This has really helped us keep track of the birds, and identify their Point A (where they start) and Point B (where they end up). What bird banding can’t tell us is how they get to Point B, and we’ve more recently been working with the Max Planck Institute in Germany to fill in the gaps. We have been fitting birds with transmitters and then using satellite technology, a bit like GPS in the car, to track them. The data collected over a 48-hour period shows up on a live map. You can check it out here: http:// behavioural-ecology.orn.mpg.de:3838/NZ2019_ BTGO. We won’t get any answers for a number of years yet, but we are excited by what we are seeing.

Hihi, hihi!

Funnies How did the ocean greet the coast? It waved.

Types of tern

What’s a trees’ favourite subject at school? Geometry.

How do trees access the internet? They log on.

Left tern

Right tern Puzzle answers • Light • Moisture • Soil/Nutrients • Air (carbon dioxide and wind) • Temperature 4.

W 2.









e p o h

r a



d e





© Wild Things Issue 147, May 2020. Produced by Forest & Bird

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How do you catch a unique bird? Unique up on it.

Mail us: kcc@forestandbird.org.nz Wild Things, PO Box 631 Wellington 6140

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