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Busy season for Kiwi creches

3-week old Taxi arriving at the Napier Kiwi Creche

Creching kiwi has been at an ultimate high this season.

One of the largest conservancies, Maungataniwha (managed by Forest Life Restoration Trust), has seen a record number of eggs in the 2021-22 season.

Eggs are incubated at the National Kiwi Hatchery and are creched at both the National Kiwi Hatchery and the Napier Kiwi creche. With so many chicks this season, some have been shipped off to Pukaha National Wildlife Centre, Mount Bruce in the Wairarapa for rearing to 1kg before release.

The season peaked quickly, with all spaces full in a short space of time. For a while there, it was like managing a MIQ facility.

Last season Napier received its first chick on the 13.10.21, and this season chicks were flooding in from the 23.9.21, so quite a change in the season.

We are now into our second season at the Napier Creche, and we learned a lot in our first season. We took things quietly and did what we knew well. We released 51 chicks in the first year, and this season we have already released 23 chicks to the wild from the Napier Creche. We have a full creche again with the second clutch, and all going well the last chicks should graduate to the wild by the end of June.

Securely packing 6 kiwi chicks into a ute for release

Heat in Hawkes Bay is extreme at times, and luckily the chicks seem to handle it. A great sprinkler system is a great way to cool the place down. However, this season we saw some intense humidity spikes. The chick’s behaviour changed during this period, food consumption dropped across the board, and we also noticed a change in how they slept—often choosing to lie stretched out rather than in the crouched position that we are more familiar with. We did get through it, and the chicks bounced back after a couple of days. We watched a few on camera, and there were also a considerable number of emerging cicadas, grubs, and grasshoppers around, so this may also have affected their eating behaviour. Why eat stuff that doesn’t move when you can chase grasshoppers all night!?

Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow has also had an outstanding season and hatched their 200th kiwi chick, so huge congratulations to Helen McCormick and her team in Taupo. Some of you may have seen the kiwi chick hatching on the Breakfast Show. Not very often do they stop the hourly national news to watch a kiwi chick hatch.

3-month-old Gnocchi on release day

One of the great things we did at Napier last year was to do a coccidia map on the pens. After every stool sample result, we mapped all findings, including nematodes and cestodes. So, when Emma Scheltema, a new PhD student from Massey, contacted us to access some pens for her coccidia study, all the data we collected was hugely beneficial for her.

From the information that we had collected, Emma was able to select the pens that she thought would be of interest to her. Coccidia is very damaging to the naïve gut of a young kiwi chick, and the more we can learn, treat and care for kiwi chicks, is what we all want to be progressing towards. Emma intends to investigate alternative treatment options for coccidiosis in young kiwi at Operation Nest Egg facilities over the next two summers. Hopefully, we will have some practical management options for kiwi chicks with the results she gets.

A good indication that the runs are full - No room at the Inn

I have included Emma’s PhD Research Project “Coccidiosis in kiwi – Diagnostics and therapeutics.” Emma is under the guidance of Dr Kerri Morgan, Associate Professor Wildlife Health, with who many will be familiar. We wish Emma well with her studies.

Kiwi Coccidia Prepatent Period- sampling protocol_v2-22-2-22
Download PDF • 155KB

The article was written by

Bev Wilkinson

WRENNZ Committee Member

Manager Napier Kiwi Creche


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