Kiwi nest confirmed at Shakespear sanctuary

At least one of the little spotted kiwi at Shakespear Regional Park is sitting on an egg. Photo, Tom Lynch

Rangers at Shakespear Open Sanctuary have a very ‘hands off’ approach to the 20 kiwi that were released there earlier this year, but open sanctuaries senior ranger Matt Maitland received confirmation of good news when he accidentally came across a male kiwi sitting on an egg last month.

It confirmed something that rangers had been expecting, as it’s kiwi breeding season.

Via transmitters, it was noted that birds were pairing up, mostly on the eastern side of the park and onto the Royal NZ Navy land.

Matt says that typically little spotted kiwi move roost locations every few nights, rotating between favoured sites. “When that changes, and we see a bird staying in the same place, we surmise that they are nesting,” he says.

Recently, Matt went to check on a bird that hadn’t moved for some time, but was alive (according to its transmitter readings). “I expected to find a chick, but instead by chance I found the bird sitting on an egg in a different location.”

Several other male kiwi in the park are also exhibiting signs of nesting.

Kiwi eggs take around 60 days to incubate, so Matt says hatching could begin in late December/early January.

Matt says while this year it’s been a ‘hands off’ approach, when the transmitters have their annual battery change, male birds will get a model with ‘incubation mode’. This provides enough information for people to intervene, if needed, and take an egg away for artificial rearing.

Twenty more kiwi will be introduced to Shakespear Open Sanctuary from Kapiti Island next March.

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