Archives For Breeding

The first kākāpō eggs in three years have been discovered by rangers on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou. The two nests that have been found so far belong to Lisa, an experienced kākāpō mum, and Tumeke who has bred before but had infertile eggs.

Both Tumeke and Lisa have laid two eggs each – but it will be another week before it’s known whether their eggs are fertile.

Today’s photo of the week is of Tumeke being viewed on her nest through a video monitor.

Tumeke the kakapo on her nest. Photo supplied by Kakapo Recovery.

Kākāpō breeding and nesting on Whenua Hou is triggered by the amount of rimu fruit available on the island, as it is the food that the mother kākāpō relies on to feed her chicks. There has been no breeding during the past two summers because of poor rimu crops.

The Kākāpō Recovery team is preparing for the possibility there could be up to 15 kākāpō nests this season.

By Jeff Hall, Biodiversity Ranger, Mana Island.

The takahē population on Mana Island have had a few new pairings formed over recent months, as a result of the sort of behaviour that could only be likened to an episode of “Days of our Lives” or “The Young and the Restless”.

Fence around takahē home on Mana Island.

Takahē home on Mana Island

While it is not always a good idea to anthropomorphise a wild animals behaviour, the antics of one of our recent immigrants does seem to warrant it.

McCaw (named when she hatched soon after the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup) came to Mana Island from Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds for an “arranged marriage” with one of our young lads.

McCaw spent three weeks in a large enclosure with her new suitor, Nohorua. They appeared to be getting along, but as it turned out she had other plans. The male from another pair that lived beside the enclosure had caught her eye. Within a couple of days of release McCaw left Nohorua, and used her youthful energy and good looks to split up the long established pairing of Kat and Santi.

Two takahē on Mana Island.

McCaw and Santi the takahē are nesting

But like all good day time television dramas these heart breaking acts had a happy outcome for some; McCaw and Santi have just started nesting. Kat – after licking her wounds and shaking her tail feathers has landed herself a younger man in Hori. But what of the jilted Nohorua you ask? His quest to find the perfect match continues.

Our takahē are well into another breeding season, with nine pairs nesting. The first nests of the season have started to hatch so hopefully we get a reasonable run of weather to help the chicks establish.

Three children coming face to face with a takahē on Mana Island.

Meeting a takahē

We had planned to do another egg transfer to Southland this year, but the birds had other plans. Our birds were a bit tardy in getting going while the southern “foster” pairs started earlier. The requirement for them to start around the same time was lost on the takahē, but at least they’re nesting!


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By Phil Marsh, Takahe Site Liaison and Relationship Manager

Takahē may look like ‘big blue chooks’, but try catching one and you will discover they are much faster and can out manoeuvre the most skilled bird wrangler.

A takahē watches on Mana Island.

A takahē watching the proceedings with interest

Enter Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue and some keen volunteers, a special island and an opportunity to help this iconic and critically endangered bird.

Takahē are critically endangered, and there are only 54 breeding pairs of takahē held at safe sites—mostly predator-free islands. Mana Island is one of these, and Jeff Hall is the ranger with 10 pairs of takahē in his care.

To keep the takahē population genetically healthy, birds must regularly be shifted between breeding sites, and therein lies the challenge.

Mana Island’s re-vegetation programme is looking good, but it’s making it more difficult to corner the wily birds. In 2011 things came to a head when visiting takahē rangers failed to catch all of the birds required. A new strategy was needed and a plan was hatched. The result—a 10 metre by 10 metre capture pen filled with something that most takahē can’t resist… takahē pellets!

The takahē volunteer team on Mana Island.

The volunteer team of Kim, Michelle and David, and takahē capture pen

Building the pens needed materials and labour, which is where Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue came in. Mitre 10 have partnered with the Takahē Recovery Programme for over seven years now. As well as providing financial support and helping to raise the profile of takahē, Mitre 10 staff also enjoy hands-on involvement with takahē conservation projects.

Bright’s Mitre 10 in Mana supplied all the materials required for four new capture pens. Mitre 10 MEGA staff, Kim Olsen from Masterton and Michelle Ledbury from Kapiti, joined DOC Ranger Jeff Hall and volunteer David Marsh—a farmer from Wairarapa—to lend a helping hand.

Three takahē looking for grubs. Photograph by Stuart McCaw.

A trio of takahē

The pen building team spent three days putting in the posts and netting needed to get the pens up and running. The pens are built with a front gate that is open for most of the year. The birds get used to walking into it and feeding from their hopper without feeling threatened. When it’s time for a takahē health check, a change of transmitter, or to band chicks, the front gate of the capture pen is closed. Once they’re in the pen they usually can’t jump high enough to get back out. The huge advantage is that the birds catch themselves in the pen and any management necessary can then be completed with minimal stress on the birds (and the rangers) involved.

And the Mitre 10 staff and volunteers? Well, they all know what it’s like to be marooned, as the day they were due to head off the island the sea was too rough for them to depart. Two days later they finally got off, but not without anticipating a return journey some time in the future to check out how well their pens are operating!

A takahē with transmitter.

A takahē with transmitter


Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue

The Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue works in partnership with DOC’s Takahē Recovery Programme and is committed to ensuring the survival, growth and security of takahē populations throughout New Zealand. Find out more about this partnership on the DOC website.

By Caroline Carter, Community Relations Ranger, Te Anau

Mention ‘Te Anau Wildlife Centre‘ around here and you’ll find it means many different things to many different birds!

A pukeko. Photographed by Peter Harrison.

For pukeko the Te Anau Wildlife Centre is the place to be seen

For some birds, such as the Auckland Island teal, the Te Anau Wildlife Centre is their retirement home, providing a safe nurturing place where breakfast, lunch and tea are assured.

For others, such as the kea and kaka, it is a place of refuge following the loss of a parent at a young age or being the victim of a road accident.

For some birds, such as the pukeko and ducks, it is the place to see and be seen. They all have wings and could fly away… and sometimes they do, but they just can’t resist returning for those crunchy breakfast pellets and plenty of visitors to keep them amused!

And then there’s the takahē. These are one of New Zealand’s rarest birds and were once thought to be extinct. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre is home to ‘Hebe’ and ‘Monty’, retirees from the breeding programme, along with two parent takahē ‘Kawa’ and ‘Tumbles’, who each year are given a new chick to foster.

A takahe. Photographed by Br3nda on Flickr.

Ta Anau Wildlife Centre is home to some true takahē charcters

Over the summer visitors had the delight of meeting their chick ‘Tawa’. Her reputation grew for being a bird of distinction, who knew exactly what she wanted in life—and that was corn on the cob for breakfast!

Unfortunately for her, Tawa’s breakfast was not sweetcorn but specially designed pellets rich in all the things a captive takahe needs. The pukeko on the other hand would get a sweetcorn to keep him away from the pellets!

The video that follows is comedy gold as Tawa the takahē battles the pukeko for the corn on the cob breakfast.