Traps keep predators away from chick trio

19:55, Nov 14 2012
CHICKS FEED: A karearea, or New Zealand falcon, feeds her three newly-hatched chicks close to Fiordland’s Kepler Track.

Three newly-hatched karearea, or New Zealand falcon, chicks have an increased chance of survival because of the dedicated volunteers who patrol and rebait the stoat traps on the Kepler Track in Fiordland.

The fluffy chicks are a welcome addition to the falcon family. Named the 2012 Bird of the Year winner, the falcon is New Zealand's most threatened bird of prey.

The chicks, born to a pair of falcons near the Kepler Track, were not hatched in a tree nest but in a depression on the forest floor amongst the beech leaves.

This makes them vulnerable to predation from introduced pests including stoats, weasels and rats.

However, because of the efforts of the Kepler Challenge volunteers who head out every week to check the trap lines, the new chicks have a better chance to reach adulthood.

Volunteer Ray Willett said the stoat trapping programme, established in 2006, had been successful.


"We are not seeing many rodents especially stoats in the traps and this is a good sign," Mr Willett said.

"If we continue to find the traps empty the chances for the falcon chicks to survive certainly increase."

Trampers in the area should be wary of getting too close to the falcons because they were very protective of their young, he said.

"They are New Zealand's fastest bird and don't mind swooping at exposed heads."

The Southland Times