Kiwi chick turns heads at park

01:43, Jan 31 2009
PRECIOUS BABY: Marama the great spotted kiwi is still in danger from stoats.

She is covered in spotty brown feathers and used to live under a log, but Marama is a head-turner with Department of Conservation staff at Nelson Lakes National Park.

The great spotted kiwi chick was found in a burrow with her father Takaka by delighted DOC field workers.

Marama, thought to be about three months old, is the fourth chick known to have hatched since great spotted kiwi were introduced to the area four years ago.

Sixteen adult kiwi were released at the Lake Rotoiti "mainland island" between 2004 and 2006 as part of the national park's Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project.

Marama is already wearing a transmitter.

"Only a handful of great spotted kiwi chicks have been monitored in the wild, so we are hoping to learn all sorts of interesting things about great spotted kiwi biology," project team leader Paul Gasson said.


DOC staff had thought that Takaka was incubating an egg, as his transmitter signal was not moving, but they could not reach him because he had burrowed under a log, Mr Gasson said.

Stoats have been trapped in the area, which covers 5000ha of kiwi habitat.

According to DOC, Marama, who tips the scales at 700g, will be under threat from predators until she weighs 1kg.

Mr Gasson said the three other chicks hatched in the area had already passed that weight.

The project, which is part of the Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi campaign, has now moved into a new phase.

Rather than the focus being on relocating kiwi, DOC could now concentrate on kiwi breeding and ensuring that the chicks survived to adulthood, Mr Gasson said.


The Nelson Mail