A cacophony of kākā chicks

If you’ve visited Orokonui lately you may have noticed the cacophony of young kākā playing and making a racket across the sanctuary. This is a result of another successful kākā breeding season at Orokonui.

This season 15 chicks fledged from five known nests within the sanctuary. Three of these were in our special nest boxes and three in the cavities of large kāpuka/broadleaf trees.  There may also be nests that we didn’t detect; these could be in cavities near the tops of trees, or in less frequented areas of the sanctuary. An increasing number of sightings of unbanded birds suggests at least a few chicks were fledged from these hidden retreats. 

A measurement of the upper beak of the kākā tells us the sex of the bird

It can be up to 81 days from the time a kākā hatches to when it leaves the nest, so we are sure many kākā parents are feeling a deep sense of relief at this time of year!

One set of caring kākā parents has quite a remarkable story. The two kākā, known as Mr and Mrs Willowbank, spent 10 years in an aviary in Christchurch before being released at Orokonui. During their time in captivity they had stopped breeding and it was thought best to give them a taste of the wild life. This year they raised two chicks in a tree cavity near the Pōkākā Loop Track in the sanctuary. With lifespans of 30 years or longer, hopefully they will have many more sets of chicks in the future. 

Bands help us identify kākā, and facilitate research

Look out at the feeders for birds marked with red primary leg bands as this is the colour that designates this year’s cohort of chicks. You can help us monitor that kākā population by recording your kākā sightings (at Orokonui, home, or elsewhere) in the Orokonui kākā database.

To report sightings head here

Remember, too, if any of these cheeky rascals turn up to your place please avoid feeding them human foods like nuts as these can make them very unwell, and teach them bad behaviours. Trust us, they don’t need anymore help with that!

After a short excursion being banded, weighed, measured and checked over. Young kākā are out back in the nest to finish their development.