Friends welcome second kiwi chick

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 20/01/2014

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Another young voice has been added to the call of the kiwi in Kahurangi, with a second chick hatching in the Friends of Flora's kiwi breeding programme.

FoF chairman Peter Adams said the chick was hatched just after Christmas and that had been recorded by infra-red cameras supplied by the Tasman District Council.

Three more pairs of adult birds in the 10,000 hectare area that the voluntary community group manages are also believed to be incubating eggs, he said.

Mr Adams said the chick still faced the most risky time of its life, being easy prey for stoats and rats. It would take six to nine months for it to reach around 1 kilogram - a size when kiwi chicks were less vulnerable to predation, he said.

The new chicks bring the number of kiwi in the FoF area to 33. Thirty-two kiwi have been relocated there over the last two years, but one died of old age.

Mr Adams said the aim was to develop a sustainable population of kiwi.

However, a huge mast (or seeding) predicted for autumn could lead to a major pest threat to all the birds the FoF had worked hard to protect over the last 12 years, he said.

Additional seed food would encourage and sustain a growing population of mice and predatory rats and stoats which would turn to native birds and snails for food when the seed runs out at the start of next spring's breeding season.

Mr Adams said FoF would meet with the Department of Conservation later this month to talk about possible strategies to ensure all their work was not lost.

"There are other areas of the South Island which are very vulnerable as well.

"It would be ideal if DOC could get some funding to help. There are a lot of variables involved and we still have a few months to go, yet," he said.

In the meantime, FoF volunteers are keeping a close camera-eye on kiwi burrows and their fingers crossed for more kiwi chicks.

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