COMMUNAL ROOSTING BEHAVIOUR OF THE AUSTRALASIAN HARRIER CIRCUS APPROXIMANS IN NEW ZEALAND

Authors


Summary

The Australasian Harrier Circus upproximans habitually roosts communally in New Zealand but not in Australia. As many as 100 birds can occupy a roost in a small area of swamp. They start to assemble about one hour before dark and communal aerial displays in the vicinity of the roost are an integral part of the roosting behaviour. Roosts may be occupied all the year round, non-breeding birds continuing to roost communally throughout the summer. In New Zealand the habit is neither connected with migration nor is it an anti-predator device. It is considered that the abundance of food caused by the spread of introduced mammals and the large increase of habitat created by European settlement has built the harrier population up to such a size that the number required to elicit the response of communal roosting occurs at all times of year in most districts. Numbers within individual roosts fluctuate throughout the year and it is suggested that communal displays before roosting may provide the necessary feed-back for the initiation of population adjustments.

Ancillary