Waitakere kokako get boost from Tiritiri Matangi

More endangered kokako are joining their mates at Ark in the Park in the Waitakere Ranges. On Saturday (29th May), two kokako will join the six birds that were released in the Ark last spring.

Kokako, Photo: Simon Fordham

Kokako, Photo: Simon Fordham

The newcomers, which come from Tiritiri Matangi, are expected to fit in well with the kokako already at the Ark – despite differences in song dialects.

Kokako have bred very successfully on Tiritiri Matangi – so successfully that some birds have become “surplus to requirement”.

The two birds joining the Ark in the Park will ultimately help to create a new self-sustaining kokako population at the 2000-hectare park.

Only 750 pairs of kokako remain in the North Island. The Department of Conservation plans to have around 1,000 breeding pairs established by 2020.

John Sumich, chair of Ark in the Park and Forest & Bird committee member, says the new kokako will be acclimatised using sound anchoring technology – speakers in the canopy will play kokako songs in “Tiri dialect” to encourage the birds to settle in this area.

The kokako, also known as the blue wattled crow, was abundant in the Waitakere Ranges until the 1950s, but predation by stoats, rats and possums caused them to become locally extinct in the 1960s.

Hundreds of volunteers work to keep Ark in the Park virtually free of predators, so that threatened native birds like kokako, whitehead, hihi and North Island robin have a safe haven on the mainland.

The Ark in the Park project is a partnership between the ARC and the Waitakere branch of Forest & Bird, based at Cascade Kauri Park in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. This area of forest is largely free of introduced pests and provides a safe haven for rare and threatened native species. To find out more about the Ark in the Park project go to www.arkinthepark.org.nz