New Zealand robins are thought to be vulnerable to poisoning by sodium fluoroacetate (1080), because individual birds found dead after aerial pest control operations have tested positive for 1080. We investigated the impacts of an aerial 1080 operation (preceded by non-toxic prefeeding) to control brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) on the survival and breeding success of a robin population at Silver Peaks, Dunedin environs, South Island, New Zealand. We monitored the survival of individual marked robins and their nesting success before and after the 1080 application.
Nest success, the proportion of clutches resulting in one or more fledglings, is a key indicator for assessing the effect of management on bird populations. However, the figures reported for New Zealand populations are usually "apparent nest success", the number of successful nests divided by the total number found. Apparent nest success invariably overestimates the true success rate, and the degree of bias depends on the population and monitoring regime. Consequently, apparent nest success rates cannot be reliably compared.