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Thanks to an active intervention program, at Whangarei Heads we really do have kiwi in our backyard.

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Moa

Moa had been working his way to adulthood and had even started breeding without any human knowing about him – apart from locals hearing his calls in the Taurikura Bay/ Mckenzie Bay area amongst the other kiwi calling there.

Then the WDC roadside mower/slasher changed all that for him. He was nesting in the steep roadside bank at the start of Mckenzie Bay  and the slasher remover the vegetation over his nest entrance. His nest burrow was almost 1 m deep but the mower scared him and one of his eggs got rolled out of the nest.

 

December 2018

Moa was in pampas bush at top of roadside bank, 9 hours nightly activity.

November 2018

Checked Moa’s radio signal and he was just uphill from the nest and had 8.5 hours activity.

Back Story

The Roadside nester

We don’t know this guy’s earlier story except that he is a wild hatched chick that has survived to adulthood thanks to the BYK stoat control programme at the Heads. Without the stoat trapping and controlled 1080 pulses on Manaia and Taurikura Ridge chances are this guy would have been gobbled in his younger days. Kiwi are a very slow growing bird and it takes up to a year for them to be big enough to fight off a stoat.

Moa had been working his way to adulthood and had even started breeding without any human knowing about him – apart from locals hearing his calls in the Taurikura Bay/ Mckenzie Bay area amongst the other kiwi calling there.

 Burrow on left level with Todd’s hand

Moa

Then the WDC roadside mower/slasher changed all that for him. He was nesting in the steep roadside bank at the start of Mckenzie Bay (see pic) and the slasher remover the vegetation over his nest entrance. His nest burrow was almost 1 m deep but the mower scared him and one of his eggs got rolled out of the nest.

A few days later Yvonne and Jim Morgan were out for a walk and noticed the egg. They rang Todd, who came around to check out the egg – it was cold and dead, it was also infertile with no embryo so was never going to hatch. Jim showed Todd where they found the egg and he scrambled up the bank and found the kiwi nest with dad and 1 warm egg in it. This was early November 2018 and with no idea who the kiwi was or how old the 2nd egg was Todd discreetly kept an eye on the nest.

Kapea

Yvonne and Jim Morgan

On 30/11/18 Todd noticed egg shell at the nest entrance and on closer inspection found a kiwi chick! The chick was ready to leave the nest so after inserting an ID chip (#0007B9600D), taking some feathers for a DNA sample, and weighting we got a quick photo with Jim and Yvonne. They named the chick “Kapea” he was 320g and bill length of 41.8mm. Because of the serious risk of Kapea falling out of the nest onto the road Todd carefully moved him back into the nearby pampas to be safer.

Todd also checked out dad – he had no ID chip so wasn’t a released kiwi or a chick from a known local nest. He has one now (0007BAB402) and also a radio transmitter attached. He was 2000g in weight and bill length of 96.0mm. Moa is only a young adult of 5 to 10 years old (the average breeding life of kiwi is 50 years without dog kills). He was then put back in the burrow as he has no problem safely climbing up the bank- something he would have done every night for around 80 nights. This is his territory and he obviously has a mate somewhere nearby.

Moa isn’t the first roadside nester that we have monitored at the Heads. “Charlie” had several nests in pampas by the main road near Craig road (including one with a car light from an accident in it). “Dallas” also regularly has nests in pampas beside the road below Whangarei Heads School. “EB” has also nested in pampas beside Kerr Road. There are really kiwi everywhere at the Heads thanks to stoat trapping and good dog control by locals.

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