Team effort sees aviary dream become reality

17:00, Aug 15 2014

Russell and May Evans could be the south's best matchmakers, now the community has built them a new aviary.

The couple's call for help to build an aviary big enough for a breeding pair of kaka - an endangered native bird - was answered by staff at Fonterra, and after months of work the aviary was opened this week.

The two kaka moved into their new home about three weeks ago and Russell happily reported that "it was love at first sight".

"They're really, really compatible, they zoomed around the cage like it was heaven," he said.

The female kaka was showing signs of nesting.

The journey since they had put out the call for help in The Eye in November had been unbelievable, he said.


"I'm still not able to take in what's happened in the last few months."

The couple run Bush Haven from their Otatara home, rescuing injured native birds and nursing them back to health before releasing them.

Last year, they asked the Department of Conservation for access to a male kaka to breed with their resident female but the department told them their aviary was too small.

Russell was unable to build an aviary on his own because of health issues so about 30 Fonterra casein staff used the aviary construction as a team-building exercise, with Fonterra paying for the project.

Plant manager Rachel Mercer said it had been led by Paul Branks, who had wanted to find a way to support the community.

Casein department staff member Darrell Argyle said working on the aviary had been good fun, and he had shared his lunch with native wood pigeons - kereru.

"One landed on my shoulder while I was having lunch and decided he would have a crack at my sandwich," he said.

It turns out wood pigeons are quite partial to cheese and vegemite sammies.

The team had loved working on such a worthy cause for good people, and particularly enjoyed May's baking, he said.

May said donations from other community members would go towards a second, smaller aviary, which would be used for kaka chicks and as an overflow when other aviaries were full with native birds recovering from injury.

Russell and May have named the male kaka Casey in honour of the casein department.

The Southland Times