Kākā are one of the noisiest and most sociable birds in the forest and Project Janszoon is working on different ways to increase the numbers of these charismatic native parrots in the Abel Tasman.
With a beech mast predicted for 2019, we are looking at taking kākā eggs from the wild, hatching them in captivity, and then releasing them into the park.
Since 2015 we have released 11 captive bred female kākā but our resident ornithologist Ron Moorhouse says the captive breeding population can’t provide enough birds with the right genetics to make a real difference in the Abel Tasman.
The good news is wild kākā populations in Noth West Nelson have recovered because of aerial predator control as part of DOC’s Battle for our Birds. The plan is to put transmitters on adult birds in these areas with healthy kākā populations so we can find out where they are nesting. Slippery polythene will be wrapped around nest trees to make it impossible for predators to climb the trunk to reach nests.
“Wild kākā populations in these areas have recovered to the point where we can safely take the first clutch of eggs knowing the birds are likely to have a second clutch. This will have no significant long-term effect on the source populations, particularly since we will be protecting nest sites to reduce the risk of nesting females being killed by predators” says Ron.
Ron says another advantage of catching kākā in mist nets is it gives a good indication of the abundance of birds. “If the same number of females and males are captured then we know the population is in good health. So this operation will give us a good insight into kākā populations in North West Nelson.”
The plan is to hatch the eggs in captivity and then hand raise the chicks. Ron says the release of around 40 new juveniles in 2019 should be enough to be the nucleus of a healthy, self-sustaining population in the Abel Tasman.