by Sarah Afriyie-Agyemang, Community Ranger
Their parents are sanctuary favourites, Charlie and Bling. Mother Charlie is famous for whistling at visitors that stop to say hello and Dad Bling is always the first to investigate new toys.The pair had successfully reared two clutches in previous years with all their chicks being released into the wild to boost populations in Abel Tasman National Park and Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
In late January, Sanctuary rangers Catherine and Kiri noticed the chick’s weights had started to decrease.
It was unclear why Charlie and Bling had stopped feeding their chicks, but the unusually hot summer may have influenced the parents feeding behaviour. The decision was made to supplementary feed the chicks and the month long feeding morning, noon and night began.
Although Charlie and Bling weren’t feeding their chicks, they were still very attentive to their babies. They would fly over to the nest box and hop around the nearby branches making sure their chicks were still happy and healthy each time they returned from feeding.
The chicks were steadily putting on weight and by mid-February they’d started to poke their heads out of the nest box. Their bold and curious personalities were really shining through and rangers were delighted to see both chicks slowly exploring their much brighter surroundings.
It’s hoped these chicks will follow their siblings into the wild to further boost kākā populations. Nesting females are vulnerable to predation with many wild populations across New Zealand dominated by males. This is why female chicks from the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary head north to Abel Tasman as part of Project Janszoon’s work with DOC to restore thriving populations of kākā to the park. Introducing male chicks to Orokonui ensures fresh genetics are entering the population. A population that is now spreading from the sanctuary and becoming increasingly common in and around Dunedin.
Until then, the two cheeky chicks will be at Punanga Manu o Te Anau learning from their parents and enthralling visitors with their charm.