Freed pair of kaka raising chicks in town belt

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
kaka
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ

GROWING UP: A group of kaka chicks, seen here in a nesting box at Zealandia.

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A Wellington conservationist had a lovely pre-Christmas surprise in the town belt - nesting kaka in an old tree.

If the chicks in the nest survive, the kaka will be the first Wellington pair to breed successfully outside wildlife sanctuary Zealandia since their extinction from the area in the early 20th century.

All going well, they should be ready to leave the nest next month.

Matu Booth, who lives in Mt Cook and runs a native forest restoration programme, discovered the nest last month.

He said the pair were part of a larger kaka flock that lived in the Wellington town belt, which is being replanted with native trees.

"In early October, I saw the pregnant female in my garden and then only saw her partner for several weeks. In late November I saw the two birds together, so I started searching for a nest in this part of the town belt where there are big old trees," Mr Booth said. He found the nest on the edge of Prince of Wales Park, where he discovered the male kaka feeding the female, and watched the female bird squeeze into the nest opening to feed her chicks.

Both birds had identification bands that linked them to Zealandia, which had freed kaka in to the wild since 2002.

The male kaka is 3 years old and the female bird is 2, and in her first breeding season.

Wellington City Council community engagement and reserves manager Myfanwy Emeny said that, coincidentally, the nest was close to a stream where there was a population of banded kokopu - a species of native fish.

"So we have two special native species living and breeding in the heart of our city. It's a wonderful example of how people and nature can co-exist."

Contact Olivia Wannan
General reporter
Email: olivia.wannan@dompost.co.nz

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