New chick boosts kokako in Waitakeres

12 Dec 2011

Plans to establish a population of kokako at our Ark in the Park project in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges have been boosted by the arrival of the first chick for the new breeding season.

Matai - the first kokako chick to be born this season in Ark in the Park. Photo: Grant Caphill.

Matai - the first kokako chick to be born this season in Ark in the Park. Photo: Grant Caphill.

Since 2009, a total of 26 endangered kokako have been transferred to the Ark in the Park from Pureora Forest Park and Tiritiri Matangi Island and the first chicks – at least four – were born last season. 

Ark in the Park Ecologist and Field Officer, Andy Warneford, says he is keeping a close eye on four other couples for signs of breeding.

Most kokako couples only produce one chick a season but he has great hopes the parents of the latest chick, Maurice and Kowhai, will try again this season after the new arrival, named Matai, was born so early in the season.

“When there’s a low density of birds, kokako behave a little unpredictably and could have another nest. If they have another chick, they’ll evict their first chick from the area once it has started feeding itself,” he says.

Maurice and Kowhai were also the parents of the first chicks born last season, which were believed to be the first kokako born in the Waitakere Ranges for 80 years.

After Andy and a team of four volunteers banded Matai, they sent one of its feathers off for gender-testing and reinforced the intensive trapping, known as the “ring of steel”, around the rewarewa tree containing the nest.

Since erecting the 40 traps around the perimeter of the tree a month ago, three predators have been caught.