Archives For chicks

The discovery of a kārearea nest near Gisborne started DOC Ranger Jamie Quirk on a small, low cost project to protect two vulnerable chicks from predation.

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Unique to New Zealand, the hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, is one of the world’s rarest penguin, so it’s exciting to see that chicks are on their way!

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By DOC Ranger, Cody Thyne

As a ranger based in Twizel the main part of my job is supporting the Kakī Recovery Programme.

Kakī/black stilts are one of New Zealand’s rarest birds and the mission of the Kakī Recovery Programme is to increase their population in the wild and ensure this special bird is not lost for future generations.

Kakī/black stilt. Photo: Mike Robb.

Kakī/black stilt

As part of a small team of four permanent and a few seasonal staff, my responsibilities involve managing kakī in the wild. This includes counting how many adults are out there; traipsing up and down numerous braided rivers in the Mackenzie Basin searching for breeding pairs; observing and interpreting behaviour; finding their nests; reading leg bands; and collecting eggs from the wild to bring back to the captive rearing facility in Twizel.

Holding a kakī chick with Jazz the conservation dog in the background.

Kakī chick found thanks to Jazz the conservation dog

Walking up and down large braided rivers isn’t for everyone, particularly if you don’t like uneven ground, stumbling around, getting your feet and other body parts wet, super hot days with no shade, howling winds, abrupt temperature changes, long periods of time staring through a spotting scope with one eye, and your lunchtime sandwiches turning to toast upon being exposed to the dry alpine air. However, the alpine views are breathtaking, and the chance to see wildlife that manages to scrape out a living in this environment, is definitely worth a trip to this part of the country.

Rangers banding a kaki chick.

Rangers from the Kakī Recovery Programme banding a 30 day old chick

The eggs I collect are brought back to the captive rearing facility in Twizel which is also home to a number of kakī pairs for captive breeding.

The facility is where kakī eggs are artificially incubated and the young chicks are raised in captivity.

At 3–9 months they are released into the wild. Rearing them in captivity significantly increases their chances of survival by preventing predation when they are most vulnerable and it also gets them through their first winter, which can be tough for young birds in the wild.

Nick Tomalin was a volunteer with at the captive rearing facility last summer while on sabbatical from The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom.

Nick’s help was hugely appreciated at the busiest time of the year, and he managed to film a great short video about the work that goes on at the facility.

Watch Nick’s video of an average day in the life of a kakī aviculturalist:

You can keep up to date with the work of the Kakī Recovery Programme on Facebook and on the DOC website.

By DOC’s Andrea Crawford, Dunedin.

Over 1,000 people met three remarkable kākāpō chicks during a public viewing in Arrowtown near Queenstown recently.

The three kākāpō chicks together.

The three kākāpō chicks together

The smiles on people’s faces told it all—pure delight at seeing three kākāpō chicks at Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall.

Event sponsor Real Journeys’ Chief Executive, Richard Lauder, observed that the chicks were received like “rock stars” by the local community.

Arrowtown Hall was packed with people.

Arrowtown Hall was packed with people

Many people at the ‘Kākāpō Chicks Day Out‘ expressed thanks to DOC, saying they appreciated how special it was to get the chance to see these remarkable, rare and charismatic native birds.

It was great people got to see the chicks and learn about what makes them so special and, of course, raise awareness to assist with their recovery.

Students observing two kākāpō chicks through the glass.

Students meet two of the three kākāpō chicks on display in Arrowtown

Welfare of the chicks was critical, so all steps were taken to ensure they remained healthy and relaxed.

They took all the attention in their stride.

As well as a viewing opportunity, people listened to talks by DOC’s Kākāpō Recovery team, watched an audio-visual display and asked the kākāpō staff plenty of questions.

Kakapo chick looking at the camera.

Kākapō chick strikes a pose

The event raised about $5,000 for the programme, through gold coin donations, merchandise sales, and through the Kākāpō Adoption Programme.

The chicks will soon be moved to Whenua Hou/Codfish Island where they will spend four weeks in an outdoor pen. They will then be released into the wild and monitored closely for the next year while they are particularly vulnerable to misadventure as they learn about their wild habitat.

Watch the video by Real Journeys:

Do you follow Sirocco the kākāpō on Facebook and Twitter? This charismatic kākāpō is an ambassador for his species and New Zealand’s official Spokesbird for Conservation.