Friday, November 26, 2010

Kokako Return to Auckland Hills

the North Island kokako
photo: Matt Binns
Great news for conservationists: threatened North Island kokako have been discovered nesting in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges...for the first time in 80 years!
Forest and Bird staff found the nest this week. The nesting birds, named Maurice and Kowhai, are among 22 kokako transferred to the Waitakeres from the King Country in September 2009. The female, Kowhai, is incubating eggs which are expected to hatch in the second week of December. Forest and Bird staff and volunteers are now searching for other kokako.
The kokako belongs to the ancient family of New Zealand wattlebirds, which includes the North and South Island saddleback and the extinct huia. A dark bluish-grey bird with a long tail and short wings, it has a pair of brightly coloured, fleshy "wattles" extending from either side of its gape to meet below the neck. The North Island kokako has blue wattles, while the South Island kokako has orange or yellow wattles. The bird is not particularly good at flying and prefers to use its powerful legs to leap and run through the forest...which puts it at risk from predators.
In 1999, kokako had dwindled to only 350 pairs - now thanks to much hard work and dedication by Forest and Bird, numbers have risen to 750 pairs, with a 2020 target of a thousand pairs due to be achieved as early as 2013.