31 Jan 2019

The chicks are hatching

From Kākāpō Files, 5:30 pm on 31 January 2019

The first chicks of the 2019 kākāpō breeding season have hatched.

The first kākāpō chick hatched at 8.30pm on the 30th January 2019. Its mother is Waikawa, and its father is probably Horton. It was conceived on Anchor Island and hatched in the incubator room on Whenua Hou / Codfish Island.

The second chick hatched mid-afternoon on the 31st January. Its mother is Tiwhiri.

The first chick of the 2019 kakapo breeding season hatched on the 30th of January. Its mum is Waikawa and its father is probably Horton.

The first chick of the 2019 kakapo breeding season hatched on the 30th of January. Its mum is Waikawa and its father is probably Horton. Photo: Daryl Eason / DOC

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By the end of January, 49 out of 50 kākāpō females on Anchor Island and Whenua Hou / Codfish Island had mated. Hoki, the first kākāpō to be hand-reared, is the latest female to mate, and only young Mahli, who is not quite 5-years-old, has not mated.

All but 7 females have nested so far, and between them they have laid 136 eggs. This number will increase as more females nest and lay.

Kākāpō scientist Andrew Digby reports that only 43 percent of the eggs have been fertile, which is less than usual.

Infertility is thought to be due to high levels of inbreeding in the population. The Kākāpō Recovery Team is carrying out an assisted breeding programme to maximise genetic diversity, and Andrew reports that they have carried out artificial insemination on three females so far.

Breaking news

1 February update: breeding has begun on Hauturu / Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Lisa has mated with Jester.

Find out more

If you would like to know more about kākāpō you can follow the Kākāpō Recovery Programme on Facebook and Instagram. Kākāpō scientist Andrew Digby is on Twitter. Or check out the book Kākāpō - rescued from the brink of extinction by Alison Ballance.

Kakapo chick Waikawa-2-A, photographed just as it broke out of the eggshell.

Kakapo chick Waikawa-2-A, photographed just as it broke out of the eggshell. Photo: Daryl Eason / DOC

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