First kakariki chicks hatched for Natureland breeding program
The hatching of two native parrots at Natureland is a sign that the recently established kakariki breeding program is off to a flying start.
The yellow-crowned parakeet chicks are the first to be hatched as part of a breed for release program between Project Janszoon and the Department of Conservation to help boost the native parrot population in the Abel Tasman National Park.
In April, eight kakariki were caught and transferred from Long Island in Queen Charlotte Sound to a purpose built aviary at Natureland. Since then they have gone through the process of picking pairs and bonding which has resulted in the recent arrivals.
Natureland senior keeper Jenny Pettigrew said both of the young birds were doing well and one, at five weeks old, had recently left the nest.
At three to four weeks, kakariki chicks became fledglings and were ready to leave the nest. They were fully feathered and able to fly," said Pettigrew.
"The fact they bred so early and produced chicks shows that we have good conditions here.This is their first time breeding here so of course it is going to be trial and error and it is great we have even gotten one chick out of the pairs."
Kakariki were known to be prolific breeders and could have up to four clutches a year with up to 11 eggs in each.
"It basically all depends on how much food is around and the environment, so if we can provide them with more food they are happy to keep breeding," said Pettigrew. "They are doing it all themselves which is fantastic, that's how you want them to be."
The kakariki live in a purpose built aviary with native plantings such as mahoe, kanuka, and rata selected to help them recognise food sources in the Abel Tasman National Park.
It was built with the help of Nelson Host Lions Club members, who spent more than 300 hours on the project.
While the sex of both birds was not yet known, if they were males they would remain at Natureland to help build the breeding stock for the program whereas of they were females they would be released into the park.
"We are at the early stages but it is great to see Natureland already have their first progeny and it is looking good for the future of their breeding programme," said Project Janszoon ornithologist Pete Gaze.
As the season progresses, Project Janszoon hopes to have several kakariki releases in the park with other young birds from breeding aviaries at Lochmara Lodge, Ecoworld and Tui Nature Reserve.
Natureland is operated by the Natureland Wildlife Trust, which aims to connect biodiversity and conservation projects across the top of the south.
The kakariki breeding program with Project Janszoon and the Department of Conservation is part of the trust's 10-year plan includes to improve services such as the breed to release and education programmes, staff training, new exhibitions and general maintenance.