Love is in the air on kakapo island

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014

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Kakapo on Codfish Island are getting frisky and that's great news for fans of the critically endangered parrot.

Staff from the Kakapo Recovery Programme on the island have confirmed two female birds have bred, and they are hoping a few more will also find love.

Deidre Vercoe, conservation services manager for kakapo and takahe, said it was exciting news and she hoped the two females would settle on a nest.

"Kakapo Lisa - renowned for getting in early - was first off the rank and got extra friendly with Blades," Vercoe said.

The team kept tabs on Lisa and Blades' amorous encounter and Blades proved to be up to the task.

A smart transmitter attached to Blades meant the team did not have to invade his privacy but could monitor his movements.

If the movements suggest mating - a more vigorous activity than booming - the "check mate" version of the smart transmitter records the behaviour. And Blade lasted 47 minutes, the results show.

However, this season Lisa had some hot competition from Tumeke, a young female who found Felix and his boom to her liking, Vercoe she said.

It was hoped more of the breeding females would also find a love match during the next few weeks to help bolster the world kakapo population of 124 birds.

It would be the first successful breeding season since 2011 if any chicks emerged from the eggs.

At the end of the month, an artificial insemination team would head to Codfish Island, and the females who mated only once would be given a semen top-up from the best male genetic match-up. There is a 40 per cent infertility rate for kakapo.

BOOMING OFF AUCKLAND

The Kakapo Recovery Programme team are excited about noises being made on Little Barrier Island off Auckland.

Nine kakapo – six males and three females – were transferred to the island in 2012 after it was declared free of predators. It is hoped a breeding colony will establish itself on the island.

Kakapo advocacy ranger Karen Arnold said three of the six males were booming and two of the three females were showing strong interest towards the boys.

That was welcome news for the recovery programme because the island was being gauged to determine whether it had potential to host a breeding population that could be left to survive on its own without supplementary feeding. To have such strong mating behaviour was "a great sign".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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