Archives For Orange-fronted Parakeet

By Megan Farley, Ranger (Biodiversity Services) in Rangiora.

The orange-fronted parakeet (kākāriki karaka) is arguably New Zealand’s most threatened endemic forest bird species.

During a recent stint in the field, the orange-fronted parakeet team spent four days monitoring the population of parakeets that have been released on Maud Island in the Marlborough Sounds

Young orange-fronted parakeet on Maud Island. Photo: Megan Farley.

Young orange-fronted parakeet on Maud Island

Maud Island has had a few issues for the parakeet population, due to a pair of falcon (kārearea) attacking fledging chicks, a lack of nesting sites, and a lack of water and food sources.

Maud Island.

Maud Island

Despite these setbacks a flock of eight orange fronted parakeets were found during this trip, all feeding together on olearia flowers (tree daisies) and bathing in the nearby stream.

Mature male orange-fronted parakeet. Photo Andrew Legault.

Mature male orange-fronted parakeet from one of the first releases onto Maud Island in 2007

Of the individual parakeets that were found, three were original birds released onto the island over six years ago, while five were birds that had hatched on the island.

Find more information on the orange-fronted parakeet on the DOC website or by liking Team OFP on Facebook.

By John Kearvell, Biodiversity Ranger – Orange-fronted parakeet

Aerial view of Tuhua/Mayor Island.

Tuhua/Mayor Island

On Wednesday 19th December 12 orange-fronted parakeets/kākāriki karaka (9 males and 3 females) were released on Tuhua/Mayor Island. The orange-fronted parakeets were bred at the Captive Unit at Peacock Springs, by the Isaacs Wildlife Trust in Christchurch.

Air New Zealand came on board to help fly the parakeets from Christchurch to Rotorua where a helicopter piloted by Glenn Olliff from Oceana Helicopters Ltd, Tauranga then took the orange-fronted parakeets directly to Tuhua where they were released by Tauranga sponsor Fauna Recovery New Zealand.

John Heaphy, Conservation Officer Protected Species and Islands Tauranga Area Office, releasing the birds.

John Heaphy, Conservation Officer Protected Species and Islands Tauranga Area Office, releasing the birds

The birds were all caught by 11am at Peacock Springs and all safely placed into their travelling boxes. Their flight left Christchurch Airport at 12.30pm, and on arrival at Rotorua VIP treatment from Air New Zealand whisked them direct to the waiting helicopter; a big thanks to Air New Zealand for the great treatment afforded to these critically endangered parakeets.

The helicopter left Rotorua and the parakeets were released onto the island by 3.30pm, in very sunny and hot conditions. They were released near the Green Lake in the caldera (Tuhua is a volcano) and all flew off fine. They were released in the same area as all other previous releases.

An orange-fronted parakeet on Tuhua from a previous translocation.

An orange-fronted parakeet on Tuhua from a previous translocation

A grateful thanks must go to all those who helped with another successful transfer of orange-fronted parakeet completed. 83 orange-fronted parakeets have now been released onto Tuhua, over 8 releases since December 2009.

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Jonathan Kearvell, Biodiversity Ranger orange-fronted parakeet.

Taking an orange-front out of a mist net and trying not to get my fingers too badly torn!

Taking an orange-front out of a mist net and trying not to get my fingers too badly torn

Name: Jonathan Kearvell

Position: Biodiversity Ranger Orange-fronted Parakeet, Waimakariri Area.

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

My primary role is acting as Team Leader for the Orange-fronted Parakeet team, which entails guiding the breeding season team when searching for and protecting nests, monitoring parakeet numbers and general valley searches. Apart from lots of data entry in the winter I also have a freshwater role, including Mudfish monitoring.

What is the best part of your job?

Easy—working with the best people ever; makes the job a joy. Thanks all.

What is the hardest part about the job?

Working a 10 day away (four at home) roster for seven months of the year, and this for most years since 1995. I’m sure quite a few do this but it sure makes it hard on my long suffering wife.

What led you to your role in DOC?

I simply had to work for DOC, right from the day we emigrated here in 1993; who wouldn’t. So I walked in the door on the first day and asked. So thanks Andy Grant and Ian Hill for giving me my first jobs; volunteering and then some historic inventory research.

John trying to find orange-fronts on Maud Island.

Trying to find orange-fronts on Maud Island

John checking out a parakeet nest.

Checking out a parakeet nest










What was the highlight from the month just gone?

Hearing that they had spotted an unbanded orange-fronted parakeet on Blumine Island; they were first translocated there 9 months ago and they are breeding; just great.

The rule of three…..

3 loves

  1. My wife
  2. My family
  3. My crazy dog Murphy

3 pet peeves

  1. Litter
  2. Wasting food
  3. Failing to identify yet another parakeet
  4. …and of course wee Kirsty. I know that’s four but she will understand

3 foods

In no particular order:

  1. Homemade coffee cake
  2. Chocolate
  3. Real ale
A photo from John of the hurunui river with mountains in the background.

The south branch of the Hurunui river

3 favourite places in New Zealand

  • The South Branch of the Hurunui (in Lake Sumner Forest Park) will always be special to me and I never tired of going there
  • Mangere Island in the Chathams is also a huge favourite
  • Akaroa, it is just such a cool place

Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie – just has to be the quirky French comedy ‘Amelie’
  • Album – easily Loreena McKennitt and ‘Nights from the Alhambra’, although Imelda May is a close second these days
  • Book – I first read it 47 years ago; it has to be Lord of the Rings

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?
Don’t panic, don’t rush, life will show you the way.

Who or what inspires you?
People like Aung San Suu Kyi; she believes, she has faith.

Electric fishing in Arthur’s Pass National Park, with my super supervisor, Simon Elkington..

Electric fishing in Arthur’s Pass National Park, with my supervisor, Simon Elkington

The trials of working on Mangere Island; and this skua drew blood!

The trials of working on Mangere Island; and this skua drew blood









When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A soldier in the Royal Marines, but I ended up in the junior TA instead.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?
Either a jump jockey or an archaeologist; and I’ve been one in a wee way.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?
Second hand is OK.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year-at home? At work?
Grow even more wonderful vegetables and cycle more often to work, even when it’s raining.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?
Sorry all but it is going to have to be an orange-fronted parakeet. I want to know what it is like flying really fast through dense vegetation; they are just awesome at it. Especially when a falcon is on their tail!

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?
I quote from Maggie Kuhn; “Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind even if your voice shakes”.

The Orange-fronted Parakeet is a beautiful bird, what is your favourite New Zealand bird species?