Kaka success in South Westland

Conservation
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Once common throughout New Zealand, kaka are now largely limited to a few localised forest strongholds in the central North and South Island, (photo by James Mortimer)

Often nesting in holes in trees, kaka chicks stand little chance when attacked by rats, stoats and possums.  Kaka is especially at risk from a predator plague caused by high levels of seed production ('beech mast'). 

Near Lake Moeraki in South Westland this kaka map is shows the places they nest high in trees where the females and their chicks are killed by introduced stoats. 

Following the aerial 1080 operations last year targeting stoats, rats and possums, DOC scientists monitored 16 Kaka nests.  Young birds fledged from all 16 nests.  None were lost to stoats.  5 nests were monitored outside the treatment area and 2 were predated by stoats and 3 fledged young birds.

 

Here's more information about kaka: http://http://www.doc.govt.nz/kaka

  • The birds are mainly diurnal but are active at night during fine weather or a full moon.
  • Flocks of boisterous kaka gather in the early morning and late evening to socialise - their amusing antics and raucous voice led Maori to refer to them as chattering and gossiping.
  • Kaka have a brush tongue to take nectar from flowers.
  • Their strong bill can open the tough cone of the kauri to obtain seeds. They also use their bill as a “third leg” to assist them when climbing trees to reach food.
  • They make extensive use of their feet to hold food and to hang from branches to reach fruit and flowers.
  • Their diet includes berries of all kinds, seeds, and the nectar of kowhai, rata and flax. They also like grubs and are often seen digging invertebrates from rotten logs.
  • Kaka play an important role in the forest by pollinating flowers.
  • Eggs take three weeks to incubate with nestlings remaining in the nest for two months. Young birds often leave the nest before they can fly, making them vulnerable to predators such as stoats and cats.
  • Size: 45 cm; males 475 g, females 425 g (North Island kaka); males 575 g, females 500 g (South Island kaka).