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 Safe Offshore Population Success for Rare Parakeet

Dept of Conservation, NZ Press release
Friday, 22 December 2006

A new generation of orange-fronted parakeets/kakariki has been successfully established on Chalky Island, ending fears that the critically endangered parakeet could become extinct.
DOC rangers Jack van Hal of Christchurch and Hannah Edmonds of Te Anau spent two days monitoring the island for signs that birds released a year ago had bred and raised chicks.
“Day one the weather was not great but still, we heard two; then saw two un-banded birds and that was enough for us,” said Ms Van Hal.
“We cracked open the champagne bottle that first night!”
Un-Banded Orange-Fronted Kakariki Found on Chalky Island, Photo DOC.

(clk for larger picture)

The team had a very successful second day, with 12 birds seen and heard, bringing the total of un-banded birds found to 16.

“We checked all four nests known from previous monitoring trips and found one active, being used by a pair of un-banded birds,” said Ms van Hal.
“It’s not common for parakeets to reuse old nests in the wild but not unheard of. But it’s a sure sign that these birds are busy working on the next generation already,” she said.
“We’re not sure if they were laying or incubating but the male was doing some great head-bobbing and dancing for his lady - so they were certainly up to something.”
“What was also different about this monitoring trip is that we were hearing birds in new areas on the island - in fact we found birds in every corner - the western, eastern, southern and most northern tips. They are spreading out to use the whole island which is more good news.”
Good news for the 16 chicks back in Christchurch, waiting to join the safe population on their offshore island paradise in early to mid-January.
DOC Advisory Scientist Andy Grant said the department will also be looking at establishing a second offshore population on Maud Island.
“We have more eggs currently being incubated by captive pairs, at Isaacs Wildlife Centre here in Christchurch,” he said.
“In fact one pair has even starting on a new clutch of eggs before their first chicks were fully fledged,” he said.

“That’s the beauty of a good breeding pair, once they get going its all on. The hard part is getting the pairs to establish in the first place, finding compatibility. It’s a bit like a good dating service really!”

Orange-fronted parakeets are only found in three valleys in Canterbury; the Hurunui Valley in Lake Sumner, and the Hawdon and Poulter valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

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