At The Karearea Nest

The karearea/NZ falcon pair on the island usually nests in the same place, and this year I put my old Ltl Acorn camera on a stand near the nest. These little videos show three very healthy chicks; I don’t know exactly how old they are, but the eggs had not hatched on 15 December, a month before. Three is unusual.

The SD card quickly ran out of space as wind kept triggering the camera, and so this is only a glimpse into life at the karearea nest. The few hundred videos recorded showed that the chicks are generally quiet at the nest site but do move around for shade and shelter, wait their turn for food and tend not to jump all over one another. They probably know not to attract harriers as they must be vulnerable when adult protection is not around.

I can report that at least two of the chicks have fledged and are following Mum around as at late February. The male parent seems to be missing and has been for two visits now. She did well to feed this large clutch by herself. As well as the little birds brought to the nest, she caught two shags (little or little black- a big effort to get them up the nest), and a red-billed gull. She is quite fearless and even had a prolonged go at a reef heron last week, which got quite agitated and it took me a while to work out that the much bigger reef heron survived unscathed.

As you may know, falcon are probably the biggest single impediment to establishment of the translocated kakariki. Falcon are a threatened species in their own right and things have to fall where they may. I did not find any kakariki remains at the nest this year. If the male or a new one does not show up, it may mean some respite for the kakariki next season, but until the juvenile falcon or indeed the adult female disperse the pressure will be on the local birds.

Inside the Kakariki Nest Box- Laying to Fledging

This series of little videos documents a kakariki nest in one of our nest boxes during the summer and autumn of 2021. Those of you who have been watching the live stream will see that it is not working any more, firstly because the link failed (no fault of the provider Teleport) at a late stage, and secondly because the chicks have fledged. I will try to compile a time lapse video from the 74,000 still images stored at Teleport- computer upgrade needed first and global chip shortage will mean a delay, yada, yada. In the meantime, these videos were taken from the SD card on the camera. Sometimes this page does not load properly on my phone. If you are having problems too, please keep trying because it mostly does work. I suspect the page is too big- let me work on that.

This is the pair of kakariki/yellow-crowned parakeet we are watching in their nest box. White-Orange is a young female bred at Tui Nature Reserve and released in October 2019. The male is unbanded, so is either island-bred or has chewed his plastic bands off.

6 Eggs as of 31 January. Only the female incubates. The camera is filming in black-and-white here, from ambient light, but it switches over to infrared at night. There is seldom enough light for it to switch to colour. The birds did not react to the camera except when it was put in. They had a look for a moment and have ignored it since. They will be able to see two faint red lights from the 850 nm infrared LEDS. The LEDs do not heat up the box.
Three newly hatched chicks and one which failed to hatch. This is 18 days after the clutch was completed, which is what the literature says, but the female was diligently incubating right from the first egg, yet they hatched in a group over a day or so. She is feeding the chick regurgitated veg and seeds or fruits. She is fed by the male nearby when he calls her off the nest. She is calling before she gets in the box, and you can hear the chicks at times also.
The female takes food from the male and tries to feed the chicks at the same time. There are four now as at 19 February. I was surprised when the male started getting into the nest box, I suspect because he can, as opposed to a natural nest hole which might be smaller.He also took to roosting in the box at night until the chicks got a fair bit bigger.
4 March, around 13 days after the last chick hatched. All four are growing strongly and are quite a handful, as this supposedly peaceful night-time roosting clip shows. The female is now out of the nest for prolonged periods as both fetch food for the chicks.
6 March. Daytime feed.
10 March. Both parents are fully occupied finding and bringing food.
11 March. A bit of peace for a change. The female is no longer brooding the chicks.
15 March. The female is now roosting outside at night.
22 March. There are now only three chicks. The biggest one died on 16 March, going from apparently healthy to dead in 30 seconds. On advice we introduced a low perch for the chicks to assist with their development. The mother took serious exception to it, so we removed what was left of it.
2 April. The first chick fledged successfully on 31 March and I have since moved the camera a little to show the entrance and exit hole better. This is the second one to fledge and the one left looks a bit agitated about it all, then a bit bereft. We took the opportunity to band the chicks while we were there.
2 April. Not to worry. A quick feed from the mother and then off. Flying strongly if downwards.