Busy kiwi 'boys' help secure nest egg
01 May 2009
Not all kiwi families have been affected by the recession - gloom and doom hasn’t reached New Zealand’s Ruahine Ranges where it’s been a bumper breeding season for eastern North Island brown kiwi.
Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers say ‘Rua’ and ‘Black’, two adult male kiwis fitted with transmitters have been busy boys this breeding season.
Between October 2008 and February 2009, their nests were each ‘raided’ twice, resulting in four fertile eggs and two chicks being lifted from the Ruahine Corner area.
Kiwi eggs and young chicks are extremely vulnerable to predators such as stoats and rats.
Operation Nest Egg (ONE)
The kiwi dads Rua and Black are part of Operation Nest Egg (ONE), a programme that aims to increase kiwi survival rates by removing eggs from the wild, and away from predators, to hatch them in captivity.
In Hawke’s Bay, DOC is working with the Aorangi Awarua Trust and the Cape Kidnappers Wildlife Preserve to help boost Ruahine kiwi numbers.
Adult male kiwis are fitted with transmitters so their breeding behaviour can be monitored.
Egg lifters must locate the nests, and then wait for kiwi to go and feed at night, before removing the eggs.
Breeding programme progress
Once chicks reach over 800g in weight, they are better able to defend
themselves against stoats and are released back into the wild.
Four Ruahine kiwi chicks have been released back into the ranges over the last two breeding seasons, with three more from this season destined for the Cape Kidnappers Wildlife Preserve.
DOC says it plans to put radio transmitters on at least two more male kiwis in the northwest Ruahines in the future.
Recent work in the area has included extending the stoat trap-line into a new area on Aorangi Awarua Trust land. This is the second extension to the original 20km trap-line that is monitored monthly by volunteers.
Whio / blue duck
Stoat trapping also benefits whio / blue duck. The Ruahine Ranges are now the southernmost North Island home to this species, which was once widespread across the whole country.
The native ducks are threatened by habitat loss and predation. However, recent community projects like the Te Potae o Awarua stoat trap-line and the NZ Deerstalkers Association Oroua Blue Duck Protection Project offer hope for whio and other native bird species in the Ruahines.
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