Frisky kiwi have baffled the experts by mating months out of season, which will leave the chicks to battle wintry conditions.
Ecologist Dr John McLennan said less than 2 per cent of kiwi eggs were laid in autumn. He was shocked to discover eggs in April and May in Northland. "That means these little critters ... are going to hatch in the middle of winter in the worst of conditions."
Kiwi spend only three months in the warmth of the nest before being sent out. But the two latest eggs are being sent to Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, to give the chicks the best chance of survival.
From there, the chicks will move on to a coastal retreat at Cape Kidnappers. "If they were left at Maungataniwha, which is quite mountainous and cold, they would struggle," McLennan said. The situation is odd and could be a mistake of nature, or a consequence of taking eggs from the same pairs earlier in the season, he said. Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust found the eggs and took them to Rotorua.
Manager Pete Shaw said they're unsure whether the eggs are late for last season or early for the next.
If all goes to plan, the chicks will hatch next month and be released back into the wild by October.
- Sunday Star Times