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.
Codfish Island/Whenua Hou
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.
Lisa’s crushed egg
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.
Hatch day for the egg in the incubator
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.
Welcome to the world little one
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.
Weighing just 173 grams, the smallest kiwi chick ever to have hatched at Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter has now arrived and is doing well.
Myfie the tiny kiwi
Of all species in the world, kiwis are traditionally famed for laying the largest egg in relation to their body size, however this tiny specimen was considerably smaller than the average 700 gram kiwi egg.
On arrival from South Whirinaki Forest in January, the egg’s weight was just 217.6 grams compared to its clutch companion, which weighed in at 442.1 grams.
Myfie and her sibling, side by side
Kiwi Encounter Husbandry Manager, Claire Travers believed the tiny egg could have been laid in response to an issue in the mother’s reproductive tract or diet-related.
Naming rights of the North Island brown kiwi were auctioned on Trade Me and raised $1,000 for the National Kiwi Trust.
Now the chick has a name—Myfie. However, proceeds from the auction will only cover around 50% off the costs involved with raising a chick before releasing it into the wild.
Myfie is expected to stay at the centre for between 4-6 months before being released back into the wild by DOC staff. In the interim, Myfie will continue to be monitored daily and can be viewed during Kiwi Encounter tours, which are a major source of fundraising for the kiwi hatchery.
Newly hatched siblings
Kiwi Encounter is New Zealand’s largest and most successful kiwi conservation centre. It has hatched and nurtured over 1,300 eggs since 1995, when Rainbow Springs became involved in the Bank of New Zealand’s kiwi recovery programme, known as ‘Operation Nest Egg’.
DOC rangers Caraline Abbott (left) and Amanda Vallis (far right) meet Myfie during a behind-the-scenes- tour
Toni Thompson, Rainbow Springs’ Territory Manager gave an update on Myfie’s progress:
“Myfie is doing great and the sponsors who named her got the chance to meet her this weekend. She is gaining weight at a good pace but is still very tiny for his or her age. We still don’t know if Myfie is a male or female but should have DNA results in the next couple of months.
“If she continues on her current weight-gain trajectory, she will go outside into our runs in the next couple of weeks.”