Individual Recognition & Monitoring of Great Spotted Kiwi

Our first Kiwi calls recordings!

14thJuly 2020 update

Verum Group’s Behavioural Ecologist Laura Molles has returned to the Paparoa Range bush to collect the kiwi call recordings from the audio recorders. We now have 2 weeks’ worth of recordings: over 2000 hours to analyse! Laura has counted 650 calls of female and male kiwi recorded across 10 of the 11 sites. The next step is measuring the detailed characteristics of all the songs to distinguish the different individuals. This will give us an idea of how many kiwis are out there. However, we will need to wait until the nesting season starts, around September, to exactly know who is who. Combined with the data from the transmitters carried by some of the kiwis, we will be able to find nests and match the calls with the individuals in each nest.

Did you know birds have dialects?

29th June 2020 update

Verum Group’s Behavioral Ecologist Laura Molles has previously worked on species like kōkako bellbirds, and tūīThese birds all have dialects that can change regionally. Recently Laura was interviewed by CNN to contribute to a feature article. If you’re interested to know more about bird dialects, click here.

All set to listen to the kiwi calling!

16th of June 2020 update

Behavioural Ecologist Laura Molles with the help of Ray Beckford, Atarau Sanctuary Manager, has just been in the bush to place the first audio recorders for our kiwi study. This is a critical step to be able to record calls from the Paparoa Range kiwis. Together, they have set up a network of 10 AudioMoths. These recorders are paired with commonly-used DOC audio recorders to assess their effectiveness. The AudioMoths are small, open-source recorders usually used to record wildlife sounds. Placed on ridgelines with 1km diameter recording areas, these devices will record for the next month between 45 minutes after sunset and before sunrise when the kiwi is more likely to call.

For this first stage of the monitoring program, our goal is to record calls from already identified individuals to build a database for the machine learning process. The software will then be trained to recognise existing birds calls and identify new ones. Several recordings of the same bird captured by different recorders will help us understand the bird's use of its territory.

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Ray setting a microphone6

Verum Group is expanding its monitoring capabilities with bird call recognition and monitoring.

Verum Group’s Behavioural ecologist Laura Molles is developing a process to identify individual Great Spotted Kiwi through their calls. This project will take place in the Paparoa Range in and will be completed in collaboration with the Atarau Sanctuary Great Spotted Kiwi creche, Paparoa Wildlife Trust, DOC, Willowbank, Friends of Flora and Roa Mine. Based on the use of labelled data and machine learning technology, this new process will allow the monitoring of the Great Spotted Kiwi in a non-invasive way, avoiding the need to capture the birds. Being able to follow individuals will facilitate the population monitoring and potentially a better understanding of social interactions between individual kiwis.

Applications for this process are numerous. From a conservation point of view, this process could be an opportunity for the Atarau creche, to compare the behaviour of reintroduced birds from Operation Nest Egg and wild birds. To discover what the Atarau Sanctuary projects are, visit

If you want to know more about this exciting monitoring project, contact Laura Molles

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