Canterbury’s kakī boosted

Department of Conservation —  16/09/2013

By DOC’s Kiersten McKinley, based in South Canterbury

Fingers went numb and noses turned bright red as DOC staff caught kakī/black stilts this morning. It was the first fine day after a southerly blast and the birds were off on an adventure!

Nine staff were needed to catch 43 sub-adult kakī from the Captive Breeding Centre aviaries located in Twizel. The birds were being released today into the Tasman Riverbed near Lake Pukaki – but first they had to be caught!

A DOC ranger removes a kakī caught in a net.

A DOC ranger carefully extracts one of the sub-adult kaki from a net

Armed with large soft nets and a slow, purposeful stride each ranger waited patiently for a young bird to rest on the aviary floor. It’s unhurried and cautious work – one fast or sudden move and these fragile birds could end up with a serious injury. Some of the birds managed to get their bills poked through the soft capture nets so another ranger was flagged to assist in the delicate extraction operation. The long, slender bill of a kakī actually has tiny, fine serrations on it which makes it fabulous for getting caught in nets!

Two kakī are held before being transported and released.

Smiles all round – these kaki look to be in good hands!

Once caught each bird underwent a thorough health check and was carefully weighed. A sub-adult bird is nine months of age and the majority of birds weighed around 200 grams – less than half a tub of margarine! What they lack in weight though they more than make up for in spirit. These are feisty birds and they were certainly ready to spread their wings!

DOC Ranger Liz Brown moving a kakī.

DOC Aviaculturist Liz Brown spends a lot of time looking after the kakī

All the kakī were placed into sturdy plywood boxes and then transported to the release site where they were set free by local school children and interested members of the public.

School students releasing kakī into the wild.

The kakī are released into the wild.

Take part in a kakī release:

Two kakī releases are scheduled every year around August or September. If you would like to attend the next one email DOC Ranger Cody Thyne. It’s a wonderful experience and a chance to see these rare birds up close.

2 responses to Canterbury’s kakī boosted


    A very good account of the activity!