Mini miracles as kakapo chicks pull through

Sirocco the Spokesbird —  21/03/2011

Skraaaark! Exciting news coming up from Codfish Island via Skype-apo. The chick season is well and truly underway and so far all my little cousins are doing brilliantly. Nothing’s certain in kakapo-land, but wings crossed, they’re doing well!

Chatting with ranger Jo (I used to like sitting on her left foot), there’s been a couple of great stories so far:


The lovely Suzanne has been doing a great job looking after Solstice’s eggs…but unfortunately she had a slight mishap and stood on one of them. (Too much rimu juice eh, Su?) The shell cracked – but luckily the rangers came to the rescue. They took the egg back to base and set to work with glue and masking tape…I’m not sure if that technique is in any medical manual but it worked. The chick inside stabilised, and a while later hatched and is doing grand – well done guys!

A Good Feed

Most of the chicks are now being looked after in nests, either by their mum or foster mum, with the others being hand reared. The fact that this is possible is due to another major breakthrough by the lovely Kakapo Recovery guys.

In the past, pretty much all the eggs had to be hand-reared, because the mums couldn’t do it themselves. This was partly due to the fact that they wouldn’t eat the supplementary food the rangers were giving them to feed them up (why would anyone ever turn down food??). That meant they weren’t strong enough to look after the chicks, so the rangers had to do it.

A Kakapo chick being hand fed, Codfish Island, 2008

But last breeding season, a few of the mums worked out that they could raise chicks on a combination of supplementary food pellets and rimu fruit. This year four mums are managing to raise chicks this way, despite the poor rimu crop. A chick raised in the nest is going to be heavier and healthier than one raised by hand, so this is fantastic news for the future.

Ripe Rimu fruit, responsible for triggering and sustaining Kakapo breeding

So some fab stuff going on down there. Thanks as ever to the whole kakapo team – DOC rangers and boffins, vollies, Rio Tinto Alcan and Forest & Bird…your work is much appreciated, and if you ever come and visit me on Maud Island, I’ll show my gratitude in time-honoured tradition – with a quick run up your leg and a beak in your ear…! Skraaark!

A baby picture of me – only two weeks old

2 responses to Mini miracles as kakapo chicks pull through

    Pamela Moresby 22/03/2011 at 11:04 am

    Im really pleased with the work to save the kakapo chicks. Wish I could really do something to make a difference other than with money.
    Glad to see Bird Rescue in action and people who help out.

    Annabelle McCart 21/03/2011 at 1:03 pm

    awwww Sirocco you are soooo cute…hey i want to be your date….what do i have to do to win xxxxx