Kakariki struggle through summer
Monday, February 18, 2013 at 9:58
City Parrots in Conservation, Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae - Red-crowned Kakariki, Research

The Red-crowned Parakeets, or Kakariki, are a delightful member of New Zealand's avifauna. This guy was feeding on the flowers of a Cabbage Tree on Tiriitiri Matangi Island near Auckland. Image by DuncanThis year's hot summer has been especially tough on the rare kakariki, New Zealand’s native parrot.

The small birds breed on Tiritiri Matangi, the pest-free sanctuary in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. But new research shows the chicks have been struggling to survive.

It's nesting season for the kakariki, otherwise known as New Zealand's red-crowned parakeet.

Auckland Zoo vet Bethany Jackson has come to Tiritiri Matangi to find the native birds’ nests and examine whether its chicks are healthy.

“We've found some new things in this population – a mite, which is causing quite significant feather loss,” says Ms Jackson. "About 40 percent of the birds I caught had varying stages of baldness, so that's never a good look.”

Ms Jackson is researching the health of kakariki on the island. She says it’s been a poor year for breeding.

“Normally this part here should be full of food and it’s not. By this time of day, I would have thought that they would have been fed, so I’m a little concerned for these guys.”

The research on the rare kakariki is part of a larger wildlife project being conducted throughout the Hauraki Gulf.

There are 12 active nest sites on Tiritiri Matangi, with between one and four chicks in each nest. Some of them are man-made and others are natural, like one burrow that needs to be abseiled to get to.

Leaps and bounds have been taken to sample each parrot nest. Some have been abandoned and the chicks haven't survived. Ms Jackson puts it down to the harsh, dry conditions.

“This year we're seeing mostly two and sometimes less chicks fledging [flying away], so I'd say this dry summer is having an impact in terms of finding water. Even the food that’s around, it can affect how many insects are around for them to feed on as well.”

The research will be published in the coming year, so conservation teams can ensure the distinctive chatter of the kakariki continues to call out over Tiritiri Matangi.

Article originally appeared on (http://cityparrots.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.