Rowi Project Blog
The other day I ventured out with my volunteer for the day, Mark, to track into one of our breeding pairs of rowi. Our mission for the day was to ascertain whether or not BS pair had successfully hatched a chick.
This was all the more exciting for me as it was to be our first for the season of the chicks we will be monitoring in the forest rather than taking them and hatching them in captivity as part of BNZ Operation Nest Egg. Due to a 1080 operation in the kiwi zone, just prior to the chick-hatching season, this year we are leaving some chicks to grow naturally in the forest.
We are able to do this due to the lack of stoats and other non-native kiwi killers in Okarito after the pest control operation. It’s really exciting for the rowi team to watch these chicks grow up naturally without having to be removed from their home for their own protection.
BS pair had been incubating this egg for over 75 days now, so we were hopeful of finding their brand new chick.
We tramped up to the top of the ridge after a beautiful boat ride across Lake Mapourika with amazing views of the Southern Alps, then headed along one of our tracks until we could pick up a signal for BS pair. Once we had a good signal we tracked in quietly, feeling quite excited about arriving at their burrow and wondering what we would find.
On arrival, I could see a long kiwi bill poking out of the burrow entrance sniffing….I realised he definitely knew we were there! The male then withdrew his bill and we could immediately hear him making some noises inside the burrow, followed by the characteristics squeeks of a rowi chick!
By this time I was super excited, we quietly put our bags down and I gently put my hand into the burrow to find the chick and bring it out….he was so very tiny, weighing only about 300 grams! Mark held him gently while I attached his tiny new transmitter and we checked him all over before putting him back with his mum and dad in the burrow.
Mark and I were both feeling pretty lucky, as we walked back out to the boat, that we were able to find the first chick born in the wild for the season!! We are looking forward to the next months as more chicks hatch in Okarito forest.
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In 1906, a Scottish-born inventor developed a revolutionary new shoe polish. He called it Kiwi polish. It was used by the British and American armies during World War I, and soon New Zealand soldiers became ‘Kiwis’.