Eighteen kak? chicks hatch over three days

Eighteen kak? chicks hatch over three days

Posted by : Frank Short Posted on : 27-Dec-2021
Eighteen kaki chicks hatch over three days

27 December 2021

One of the rarest wading birds in the world has had a busy festive season, with 18 chicks hatched between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

The kak?, or black stilt, are critically endangered and found mostly in the Mackenzie Basin in South Canterbury.

Department of Conservation (DOC) kak? project lead Liz Brown said news of the 18 chicks was exciting.

It marked a big change from when the programme started, Brown said.

"In the early '80s, the kak? population got down to sort of the low 20s. We currently have an estimated wild population of about 170 individuals in the braided rivers around the Mackenzie Basin," she said.

Brown said the chicks would remain at DOC's Twizel breeding facility until they are nine months old.

"The hand rearing process lasts for about 35 days. That's when we've got them inside in brooders and then we've got some small outside runs so they've got some small outside access."

Christmas was a particularly busy time because the young chicks required a lot of work, she said.

"The chicks are raised in groups of four to seven. Each morning they are weighed, and their brooder is cleaned ... they are also fed three times a day," Brown said.

"At 35 days old, they will go down to one of our large, free-flight aviaries and they'll stay there until they're about nine months old, usually."

Kak? are released into the wild after winter, when there is a more reliable food supply.

The chicks hatched in DOC's breeding facility have come from eggs laid by wild and captive kak?.

If the birds made it to adulthood (two years old), they could go on to have a decent lifespan, Brown said.

"The average life expectancy is between six to eight years ... but we've got one particular female at the moment who is still laying eggs and she is in her early 20s. That's pretty unusual!"

If people come across kak? in the wild, they should leave them to do their thing and back away quietly, she said.

There are currently 29 eggs and 117 chicks in the breeding facility, remaining steady on last year when 150 young kak? were released.

Copyright @ 2021, Radio New Zealand.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short


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