Rooks (RPMP 2018)

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Rooks (RPMP 2018)

Rooks are subject to an Exclusion programme as part of the Regional Pest Management Plan 2018. There are not known to be established in Marlborough and the long term goal is to ensure that establishment does not happen.

History of the Rook in New Zealand

Rooks were introduced into New Zealand in the late 1800’s. Hawkes Bay, Canterbury, Nelson and Auckland were areas that Rooks were liberated but only Hawkes Bay and Canterbury populations flourished and spread. Marlborough has had a couple of birds sighted over the years in the Upper Wairau and South Marlborough. The last small population of Rooks was eradicated in the Wharanui area in 2010.

A rook.
Rooks form large groups and are able to cause  significant damage to crops.

Rooks form large groups and are able to cause significant damage to crops

Why are Rooks considered pests?

Rooks are generally insect eaters, however are more than happy foraging on vegetation, particularly on young cereal and vegetable crops. One or two Rooks will cause few issues, however, Rooks form large group sizes quickly and then they cause significant damage to crops and can increase erosion risk by pulling up grasses to obtain insects. Rooks also travel large distances for food and juveniles will investigate new areas to occupy, so they have potential to cover a large area and establish in new areas.

Because of the potential of Rooks to cause damage and we currently have no known populations; Council looks to eradicate Rooks from the region and ensure that they do not establish again.

Size difference of the Rook from left to right: Rook,  Magpie and Blackbird

Size difference of the Rook from left to right: Rook, Magpie and Blackbird

What do Rooks look like?

Rooks are completely black in colour and sometimes a slightly purple tint can be seen. They have large, powerful, pointed beaks. They are quite noisy birds with a harsh “kaaah” call. You will often hear them calling as they are flying.

Rooks are often mistaken for Magpies, but Rooks are larger in size than magpies and completely black. In spring they set up a nesting site called a rookery, usually in large tall trees such as mature pines and eucalypts and they will congregate in these areas. From their rookeries they go out to forage in the surrounding area. Rookeries can get up to 1,000 in number if allowed to breed.

How do you control Rooks?

Rooks are smart birds and learn very quickly to avoid control methods, they especially become very wary of any shooting – therefore controlling Rooks is a specialised activity which the Council will undertake. If you do see a Rook(s), do not shoot at it as this will reduce the chances of successfully controlling Rooks. Please contact the Council if you see a Rook and we will take care of the control efforts.

What does the Council do to control Rooks?

Council will undertake all control efforts to eradicate Rooks if they appear in the district.

The Council relies heavily on people contacting us if they have seen something that looks like a Rook, however, we also undertake annual surveillance for Rooks in the areas that have had rookeries, and any observations of Rooks are followed up with surveillance by the Council.

Education about Rooks is also undertaken particularly in Spring when they are most likely to be seen and heard.

Other links

See how this programme is tracking

Go to the NZ Birds Online website to hear what Rooks sound like in the wild