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Time for the truth about Kea nest success

Brent Barrett | Nov 16, 2010


We are just half way through our third season of kea nest monitoring in the lowland forest and already we have staggering results. The following link gives you a close up of our progress. Kea Research Youtube

In the first year of this work we found only two kea nests, one by accident (or fate) and one from tracking a female with a transmitter. The following year we found five nests of which three failed due to a number of causes including predation. This year we are just over half way through the season and have a staggering 13 nests located. Six of these nests however have already failed, four of these from predation. This work is highlighting the need for proper support for wild kea populations. Up until this research we had suspicions about vulnerability of kea nests to introduced predators (Stoats (mustalid), possums and rats) but little direct evidence of their effect.

The current focus is on the most vulnerable portion of the national Kea population, namely the lowland forest where predator numbers are at their highest. In the alpine region we can assume stoats are hampered in their movements by snow, treeline and cliff faces. Proper protection of Kea in situ has to be on a national scale to be effective, and while it is tempting to trap around the individual nests we locate during our study the protection would be immediate but the benefit to all Kea very minimal. We must understand exactly what is going on and identify the risk accurately to best plan our assault on the introduced predators that threaten all of our delicate wildlife.  For if a robust large parrot like the Kea is struggling to survive then what of the dainty perching birds or long necked water fowl? Through this research we hope to get real answers really fast and start effective protection of our cheeky parrot.