One third of the rarest kiwi population hatched at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.
With only 375 birds in existence, rowi are the most endangered of all kiwi species. Through BNZ Operation Nest Egg, Willowbank has seen well over 150 rowi chicks pass through their doors since 2005—a huge contribution to the population.
Willowbank has also made outstanding contributions to critically endangered Haast tokoeka and the declining great spotted kiwi/roroa. With these three important kiwi species combined Willowbank has successfully brought over 250 kiwi chicks into the world since 2005.
The number of chicks hatched and raised by Willowbank has risen dramatically since the first BNZ Operation Nest Egg season of 2005/06 when just six chicks were released. Last season 2009/10 saw 87 chicks released in total and already this current 10/11 season looks set to beat this with 70 chicks released so far and more to come!
Willowbank has 60 kiwi birds on site at present (included in this number are the North Island Brown Kiwi on display for the public to see).
Imagine feeding 60 kiwis! It takes 3-4 people a day to feed, incubate, rear and tend to this amount. Staff say that each kiwi has its own name and personality. Some are feisty and mean, and some are just plain adorable.
Since August 2010 we have raised 70 kiwi chicks and have 6 eggs currently incubating. We still have eggs collected from the wild weekly and this will continue in to February. These chicks and eggs come from a variety of kiwi including great spotted, haast tokoeka and rowi.
The staff who rear and feed these hungry mouths are looking forward to seeing this season’s chicks leave for the wild. From Willowbank the chicks head to a predator-free crèche. Here they can grow to the 1 kg needed to fight off the stoats and cats that would otherwise kill 95% of them if they were left in the wild. Once the are big enough they can be returned to the wild to eventually add to the species’ breeding population.
Kiwi statistics for this year’s season (August 2010 – February 2011)
Rowi – 30 chicks raised
Haast tokoeka – 1 egg incubating still and 26 chicks raised
Great spotted kiwi – 3 eggs incubating still with 14 chicks raised
North Island brown – 2 eggs incubating
70 chicks have been raised already this season ( season = August 2010 – February 2011) – with 6 eggs still incubating – eggs and chicks arriving daily.
Beginning season of 2005/06 saw 6 chicks in total released, growing dramatically each year to 2009/10 season 87 chicks released in total and already this current 10/11 season 70 chicks with more to come! Since 2005, Willowbank has released a total of 258 kiwi chicks into the wild.
Willowbank works alongside the New Zealand Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation, as part of the BNZ Operation Nest Egg programme helping to save Kiwi from extinction.