Rowi Project Blog
At the moment we are busy checking our wee rowi chicks that are in the forest with their parents, with a small transmitter attached.
I recently went out to an area in the forest we call Alpine Lake to visit a pair of birds called Charger and Dawn. We were hoping they would have a new chick with them. They had been sitting studiously on their egg for over 70 days now, so the chick was due to hatch.
I started my day off in the best way possible, with a helicopter flight into the heart of the Okarito forest, where they dropped me off at one of our huts.
It was such a beautiful clear day and was amazing to fly over the forest and see the area that I would soon be walking!
After a safe drop off, I set off on my adventure alongside Alpine Lake and up over a couple of small hills to my turn-off.
Eventually I got to the area where this pair’s territory begins and used my transceiver to listen for a signal for the birds. Each bird has a specific frequency on the transmitter attached to its leg, so that we can find them in the forest.
I got a signal for the birds and began to track into them off the track…
The signal took me along and then up a hill towards the top of a ridge. Suddenly I was getting a booming, loud signal all around me so was able to move my aerial around and figure out where they were sleeping in their burrow. I found the entrance and quietly peeked in to see the adults sitting together at the back of the burrow.
I slid my hand in and under the male, who didn’t move at all as I felt around under him and suddenly got hold of a very small leg, a chick!
I gently lifted it from the burrow, fitted a transmitter on its leg and weighed and checked it over. It looked to be a very healthy chick, only 252 grams!
I took it back to the burrow and quietly put it back with its parents and it snuck back between them…..a great result!
The other work I’ve undertaken this week was little blue penguin/korora monitoring. Every two weeks I walk down past the 3-Mile lagoon to where I monitor the colony to see how their chicks are doing.
The breeding season is well under way now with all active burrows having hatched their eggs. It has been quite a long period of monitoring as the adults start to lay their eggs in August.
Korora usually have two eggs each season and will raise both chicks. Once the chicks hatch there is a guard period of four weeks or so when one of the parents will be with the chicks at all times.
Over the last couple of weeks, before the chicks fledge and head out to sea to fend for themselves, they will be left alone for a day or two, as both parents are out trying to get enough food to feed their nearly full-sized chicks.
At this time the chicks are getting their waterproof feathers through and it is quite hard to tell the difference between them and their parents, although the adults are generally much more aggressive and will try to bite the burrowscope while the chicks hide at the back of the nest!
I will continue to monitor the chicks until they have all fledged, usually around Christmas time.
This week I noticed that there were many empty nests as the chicks have left to begin their adult life at sea. It is nice to see an empty nest and know the parents have done a great job at raising their two chicks successfully….
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We used to think only male kiwi incubated eggs. We now know great spotted, rowi and the Haast tokoeka share incubation, and sometimes southern tokoeka pairs enlist the help of other kiwi to share incubation.