Surprise arrival of rare takahe chick

03:10, Jan 11 2013
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NEW ARRIVAL: A new takahe at the Cape Sanctuary.

A pair of takahe at a sanctuary were so secretive about their nesting that staff were surprised when a chick arrived.

Just four months after the pair arrived at the Hawke’s Bay sanctuary near Cape Kidnappers, Oraka and Orehou produced a "tiny puff ball" chick on December 29.

Takahe are classed as critically threatened and there are fewer than 300 left and just 50 breeding pairs are known.

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PROUD PARENTS: Two takahe, Oraka and Orehou, with their newborn chick.

Cape Sanctuary manager Tamsin Ward-Smith was thrilled at the hatching.

“It is the first time in many hundreds of years that Takahe have roamed the Hawke’s Bay region so receiving a pair here at the sanctuary in September was a very special occasion," she said.

"To have them breed is even more unbelievable and one more precious bird to help put the species back on the road to recovery”.

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The sex of the chick could not be determined until it had further matured.

Ms Ward-Smith said staff were caught off guard because the pair had eluded all attempts to detect them nesting.

Takahe do not usually breed until they are three years old but Orehou had started young as she was just approaching two.

"Orehou certainly is helping her cause by starting so young and being such a good parent.'

The chick will be managed as part of the wider Takahe meta-population and may be transferred to another location once independent of its parents to be paired with another bird.

The North Island species - the moho - became extinct in the 1800s.

The Takahe being established at Cape Sanctuary are the South Island species, also thought to have been extinct until rediscovery in 1948.

The Dominion Post