I’ve just come back from spending a week on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou down by Stewart Island helping the Kākāpō Recovery Team with the important work they do to look after those mossy green parrots.
With only 126 kākāpō in the world every chick counts, so imagine how stoked I was to be able to witness the hatching of the first kākāpō chick for the 2014 breeding season. Hopefully there could be up to six new kākāpō chicks by the end of this season.
I arrived in the deep south to news that the egg that was due to hatch had been accidentally crushed by kākāpō mum-to-be Lisa. The kākāpō rangers had been monitoring the nest and were able to swiftly rescue the egg and, thanks to some quick thinking and some good old-fashioned ‘kiwi ingenuity’ from ranger Jo Ledington, the egg was carefully repaired with some glue and tape.
The condition of the bird inside the egg wasn’t known, but everyone crossed their fingers and hoped that this little chick would be a fighter.
The day I flew into Codfish Island the chick could be heard pipping inside the egg. This was a big relief to know that the chick was alive and almost ready to hatch.
After dinner kākāpō ‘surrogate mum’ Darryl Eason ran in to tell us that the chick was starting to hatch.
Luckily the chick managed to find an exit from the egg avoiding the tape and hatching out the other side. It was a frail looking bundle of fluff, but it was in a good condition. It was a fantastic experience to be in the room as the newest kākāpō entered into the world.
It can take a while before the sex of the kākāpō can be determined, so for now this little was is known simply as ‘Lisa One’.
The wee chick will be returned to a nest when it is healthy and strong. To give the chick the best start in life it may not go back to its biological mother Lisa, instead the rangers monitor potential foster mothers to ensure that the best mum is given the chance to raise a chick.
Kia kaha little kākāpō, it was great to experience your hatch day with you and I can’t wait for further updates from the kākāpō team.