Wellington’s new takahē
We're soon welcoming a breeding pair of takahē to the sanctuary!
You will have heard our exciting news about the two takahe that will be making their way to ZEALANDIA on 28 August 2017!
Nio and Orbell are a breeding pair of takahē, 14 and 17 years old respectively. There is every possibility they could nest at ZEALANDIA this summer, which is incredible news for Wellington and ZEALANDIA’s ongoing success in conservation.
The takahē are coming from Mana Island Scientific Reserve. This fabulous island is about 3km west of Porirua, so the birds won’t be travelling too far. Mana Island is one of the best breeding areas for takahē, and the birds there are cared for in collaboration by Takahe Recovery, Ngai Tahu, Friends of Mana Island, Ngati Toa and the Department of Conservation. We are very thankful to this group of people for taking care of these taonga, and sharing them with us now.
Nio and Orbell have spent their whole life on Mana and have been paired since 2013. Their chicks Brodie, Bon, Tara and Topuanuku are now part of the wider breeding population. They are spread across New Zealand, and are located on Mana, Motutapu and Maungatautari. Perhaps most excitingly, Tupuanuku is currently at Burwood Takahē Centre - this bird is flagged to be part of the release into the Kahurangi National Park as one of the founders for a new wild population! While Nio and Orbell might breed this year, they are coming close to retirement with Orbell close to 17 years old. That is why they are being moved – it is hoped Nio’s daughter will take over their prime breeding territory so they can better contribute to the species recovery.
Nio and Orbell are unlikely to be as visible right off the bat as T2 currently is. As occurred when T2 and Puffin arrived at ZEALANDIA, we’ll need to bear with them as they settle into their new home!
So what about T2, our current resident takahē? Unfortunately T2 is unable to stay in the same area as the new birds. The younger Orbell would quite possibly give him a hard time, and this wouldn’t be positive for either birds. We also think it is time for him to be in a quieter area, with fewer visitors. His health has declined over the last year, and of course he lost Puffin just recently. He is nearing 23 years which is very old for a takahē, but it is difficult to tell just how much time he might have remaining. We think it is definitely time he had the chance for a true retirement!
I mentioned in the media announcement that we will be closely monitoring his wellbeing. What does this mean? First, we are setting up a pen for him that will provide that initial introduction to the new area, and help him settle. This means for a couple of days we will know exactly where he is, and can check up on him easily. After about a week he will be allowed to roam free. We will continue a feeding regime, first up this will be done by the Conservation team so we can respond rapidly to any sign of a decline. Later this will become a new volunteer role!
I have also set up a method to help us measure and quantify T2’s wellbeing. This might seem a bit over-the-top, but subtle day-to-day change is quite hard to detect. This will give us a robust method to measure change over time. This ‘ethogram’ (where scientists use specific observational techniques to measure behaviors) will help us recognize any changes in his preening behavior, the way he walks, or anything else different over time. On top of this, T2 will continue to be weighed, giving us yet another measure of his wellbeing.
Thank you all for your ongoing support, and keep an eye out for our new arrivals!
Dr Danielle Shanahan
Manager Conservation, Learning, Research and Experience