This week’s post is the first in a series to look at some Kapiti Island takahē who have flown the nest. Well, not really, they’re too fat to fly, but Air New Zealand helps out with that.
Some real characters have set forth from Kapiti Island. One handsome takahē called Te Mingi caused quite a stir when he arrived at Tiritiri Matangi Island in 2010. He was meant to pair up with a hot chick called Ella, but instead her mother, Cheesecake, took a fancy to him.
Greg, Cheesecake’s husband, duelled with Te Mingi for his honour, but in the end Greg got a thrashing and Cheesecake and Te Mingi moved in together.
The happy couple have gone on to have three surviving babies – Wal, Westie, and a chick born in December who has yet to be named.
Breeding success of takahē in the wild is quite low so intervention methods, such as removal of infertile eggs from nests, and fostering out ‘extra’ eggs, have been used to manage takahē populations.
This work is done as part of the Takahē Recovery Programme supported by Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue in partnership with DOC. In particular, Vince Indo and his team at Mitre 10 Mega Paraparaumu have been awesome with their support of Kapiti Island and its takahē inhabitants.
Although takahē were never originally on Kapiti Island, a population was established there in case anything happened to the wild birds in the Murchison Mountains.
Kapiti, Tiritiri Matangi, Maud, Mana and Motutapu Islands, along with valuable protected mainland sites like the Burwood Takahē Rearing Unit, Cape Sanctuary and Maungatautari Ecological Island, all help secure the stability of takahē numbers.
Because there are so few takahē (about 260), the birds are moved between different breeding sites to increase genetic diversity and decrease the chance of inbreeding.
When takahē are translocated they’re put in a special Mitre 10 Takahe Rescue transfer box and get their very own seat on an Air New Zealand flight.
The human passengers can take a peek and there might be an announcement about the special traveller – this is celebrity status, New Zealand-style.
Kapiti Island retains three breeding pairs and any chicks born there go on to be takahē superstars elsewhere in the country; it can be hard to say goodbye but Kapiti Coasters should be proud.
Takahē couples begin breeding in spring; the female usually lays two speckled eggs and takes turns with her mate to keep them warm.
Super-cute takahē chicks covered in black fuzz hatch after 30 days incubation but they can’t look after themselves yet.
After about three months of copying their parents they gradually learn skills for independence, then finally leave home when they’re one or two years old.
Te Mingi and Cheesecake’s territory is the lighthouse/Visitor Centre area of Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary, north of Auckland.
Te Mingi is very comfortable with people so perhaps is the most famous takahē on that island these days – sounds like destiny for a takahe from Kapiti.