First kakapo eggs in three years

RARE: Lisa's eggs.
RARE: Lisa's eggs.

One of the world's rarest parrots, the kakapo, is nesting for the first time in three years, the Department of Conservation reported today.

Kakapo Recovery has discovered two females nesting on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) near Stewart Island.

It will be another week before it is known if the eggs are fertile and if so, this will be the first successful breeding season since 2011.

"We are really starting to fizz, with seven female already having mated," Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said.

"That includes Huhana who, at just five-years-old, is the youngest female we've ever known, to mate."

The two known nests belong to Lisa, an experienced kakapo mum, and Tumeke, who has bred before but had infertile eggs - there is a 40 per cent infertility rate for kakapo.

Mother kakapo feed their chicks rimu fruit, and poor crops on the island during the past two summers had halted breeding.

This year the fruit supply seemed patchy in places, but Vercoe Scott said the birds were obviously convinced there was enough to raise their young.

"From a conservative estimate of five to 10 nests at the beginning of the season, the team is now preparing for the possibility there could be up to 15," she said.

The national kakapo population is 124, up from a low of 51 in 1995.

Listed internationally as critically endangered, the species is native to New Zealand.

Kakapo, are flightless but good walkers and tree-climbers - despite being the heaviest parrot in the world, weighing up to 2 kilograms. They are nocturnal, and breed every two to four years.

All remaining kakapo are now managed by the Department of Conservation on three offshore islands: Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), Anchor Island in Fiordland, and Little Barrier Island (Hauturu-o-Toi) near Auckland.

ONE SHE PREPARED EARLIER: A file photo of Lisa the Kakapo with chick.
ONE SHE PREPARED EARLIER: A file photo of Lisa the Kakapo with chick.