Here is a copy of a recent update distributed by Tony Pullar.
South Island Kaka Captive breeding update:
The programme to date has been running along smoothly with good reproduction from three pairs last season.
Seven birds in total were reared and all have been subsequently released at Orokonui Eco Sanctuary north of Dunedin. The released birds go through a process of acclimatization to the release site by staying in our purpose built release aviary which is adjacent to another kaka aviary holding an anchor pair. The period in the holding aviary is also to ensure that the birds being released are familiar with the operation of the self-feeding system which is in use at feeding stations throughout the sanctuary.
Of the seven birds reared 5 were bred from two pairs at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens aviary and 2 from one pair at Queens Park, Invercargill. The last three birds were released in the first week of October and to date like most others, they do not stray far from the release aviary preferring to spend time in the kanuka trees close to the aviary.
In total now there are 21 birds flying free at Orokonui. One pair that was released was the original pair I set up at Dunedin Botanic Gardens. These birdsí along with one other pair at Queens Park, Invercargill dominate the genetic mix of birds released into Orokonui. The female of my old original pair is getting on and has done her bit towards the cause so we decided to free the pair back to the wild. The male who was always a bit of a character and never shy about coming forward has continued to delight visitors with the freedom of Orokonui and often makes his presence known on unsuspecting visitors.
The wild Orokonui population is still fragile at this point but with each year that passes we are ever optimistic that this new Otago population will prevail and become completely successful. We colour band all released birds and endeavour to catch any young birds bred in the sanctuary to also id with a colour band. We think there has only been one released pair who are consistent wild breeders but this season a new young bird arrived at the feeders so we canít be exactly sure that another pair may have started to breed. It is hard to track and record all the birds observed in the Sanctuary and we do see a definite hierarchy in the population so not everyone is allowed at the feeders at once.
We are equally confident that this coming season will see new parings happening at Orokonui and hopefully a big jump in that wild population. Dawn and Dusk are the time to see and hear kaka at Orokonui and is neat to hear them calling throughout the Sanctuary.
This year has also seen new arrivals into the captive population from wild sources. An adult female with a leg trauma was removed from the Wanaka region. She subsequently lost one leg but has otherwise fully recovered and is now in the holding aviary at Orokonui with a male. An adult male with a serious wing injury was also removed from Stewart Island. He spent several months at Massey University and had pins inserted into his damaged wing. He has recovered well but is unable to fly. He now resides at Dunedin Botanic Gardens aviary with a young female. These two wild birds are the key to the genetic bottleneck at Orokonui and we hope in the years to come that some offspring will be produced.
Earlier this year I visited our two Christchurch captive pairs who to date have not bred. Some refinements to their situations will hopefully see them also contribute offspring for release. The total captive population also now consists of 21 birds, eight potential pairs and 5 non breeding birds. These birds are held in seven different locations.
In reality from a start date of 2005 this program is tracking along very well and the ability to release birds back into the wild has made an immense difference to ability of the holding institutions and individuals to keep producing more birds. At this point on behalf of Orokonui Eco Sanctuary and the Depít of Conservation I would like to again thank and acknowledge all those involved for the not inconsiderable cost of housing and producing these fantastic parrots for release. Although some holders are reluctant to seek public acknowledgement it is important to let the public know where you can that this program is supporting the breeding and release of kaka back into the wild.
It goes without saying that at any time you are passing through Dunedin you are encouraged to visit the kaka of Orokonui and see what your time and dedication has produced. Please feel free to contact me for a personal viewing. In the meantime is onwards and upwards and I wish you all the very best with the coming breeding season.