Richard Gray uses a mirror and torch to check on kakariki chicks in an artificial nest box (eft), and a kakariki feeding station hung up in a tree (images: A. Ballance)
Chatty and brightly-coloured, kakariki or red-crowned parakeets are a familiar sight on predator-free islands. But these days they’re pretty rare on mainland New Zealand – and absent from our towns and cities.
However, they’ve recently been given a hand to take up residence in central Wellington, and to find out how these rare birds are enjoying city living Alison Ballance joins conservation officer Richard Gray behind-the-scenes at the Zealandia sanctuary.
Kakariki were introduced to Zealandia from Kapiti Island in 2010, and began breeding within a few months of arriving. Several of the translocated birds bred with unbanded female birds that are suspected to have come from Matiu-Somes Island in Wellington Harbour, where there is another thriving translocated population.
Richard shows Alison how feeding millet is a good way to monitor the birds, shows her a natural nest excavated in a cavity in a rotten log, and then gives her a peek into an artificial nest box made of black plastic pipe where one of the first clutches of the season is two-weeks old and just beginning to grow their distinctive emerald-coloured feathers.