Cold spring hits Kakapo

Last updated 14:08 11/12/2012
Kakapo
The cold, wet southern spring has impacted fruit supplies for kakapo, which will affect the breeding season.

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Hopes for a solid kakapo breeding season now look unlikely, following a cold southern spring.

Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said indications earlier in the year had suggested a reasonable rimu fruit supply on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island this summer, however the cold, wet Southland spring had stopped the fruit from developing.


Female kakapo feed the fruit to their chicks and it is believed the availability of the fruit was used as a cue by the birds for breeding, she said.

"We've spent the past few months preparing for up to 15 nests on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, but the latest data from the island suggests we may be looking at only several nests this season."

"Our rimu fruit count last month shows there has been a 67 percent decline in fruit abundance since it was last counted in February.

"Compare that to the 38 percent we lost after the big September snow in 2010 and it's obvious the fruit has been hit hard."

As a result, plans to recruit volunteers to mind the nests had been cancelled, Ms Vercoe Scott said.

"Luckily, all is not lost. There are some trees with good supplies and, if they're located in a female's home range, we'd still expect some nesting to occur."

Part of the work being carried out by Kakapo Recovery involves trialling supplementary food pellets that scientists hope will be accepted by female kakapo, as an alternative to rimu, to feed their chicks. 

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- The Southland Times

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