Good eggs

20 Jan 2011

The first generation of mainland kokako born into the Ark in the Park are enjoying top-notch security as volunteers work to create a ‘ring of steel’ around these treasured nests.

The 50 strong volunteer team have been vigilantly watching over the two nests that lie in the buffer-zone of the 2,300 hectare Casades Kauri park outside Auckland.

So far, one chick has successfully fledged.

To keep predators at bay volunteers have ramped up their trapping efforts and households in the neighbourhood have come on board by locking up their cats.

One household even volunteered to send their cat to a cattery (cost-free) during this vulnerable period.

As well as doing daily monitoring of the birds, volunteers are also keeping a close eye on the romantic developments of the two other couples.

“You often hear the birds duetting – the male will start the song, and then the female with follow in stereo, note for note,” says Ark in the Park Field Officer, Andy Warneford

“They’re also showing territorial behaviour which is encouraging. They’ll have a sing-off at the boundary of their patch – it’s often quite a show-down,”

Out of the five couples formed from the 22 birds, one lesbian couple has emerged from the mix.

“Kokako are very much like humans really - some form gay couples, others stay single and some pair-up into female-male pairs.”

The first six kokako were transferred to the Ark from the King country in 2009 and another 16 birds were transferred into the predator-controlled reserve in April this year.

It is expected there will be another transfer of birds this year bringing the total population to around 30 birds.

It is hoped the kokako population will become self sustaining in the next three to four years.