Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Kakariki Banding

Not only does Ellen have to track the kakariki, she also has to band the nestlings and trap them so that she can fit transmitters onto their tail.

This day I got to come along to watch how they band birds.  One band goes on one leg, this has a number that is registered to DOC so that every banded bird has its own number and record. The same colour is used for the same breeding season.  The birds we are tracking have been born in the 2015/2016 breeding season so they all have a red band.   Then two different coloured bands are put on its other leg.  These are for Zealandia so that they know which bird it is.  The bands make it easy for us to identify which bird it is and also it makes it easy to record any observations about the bird.

This day I got to see two different sets of juveniles.  In Zealandia they have been looking at different types of nesting boxes so it was interesting to see how the birds nest.  These birds nest in hollows, they don't build nests.  So the first nesting box was a bit like a posting box, Ellen first uses a mirror and torch to check on the nest, then she unscrewed the lid and reached down to the young birds.  On the side of the box is a small hole that the parents fly in and out of - Ellen blocked that off before she lifted the lid.

Each bird is carefully placed into a soft fabric bag.  One at a time they are weighed and their weight carefully recorded.  Then Neil carefully let the birds head poke out of the bag.  He had to carefully measure the length and width of its beak.

Once the measurements are done and everything is recorded they were able to carefully place the bands on the birds legs.  There are strict rules about handling birds and you have to be trained and registered to be able to band birds.

A 28 day old nestling.  Too cute!

Take feather samples

Attaching the bands

Storing the feathers

Feathers are also collected and stored so that in the future if they need to be analysed they have got them all ready.

We then headed off to another nest where the staff at Zealandia had placed a Mamaku tree fern sideways in another tree.  Both ends had been blocked off and a small hole cut into the side of the tree (it was hollow).  The kakariki had happily made a home in it, along with a forest gecko (my first since being here!).
Ellen and Neil checking out the log

Working out how to get the birds to go to one end!

Ellen with one of the juveniles

A forest gecko who made its home in the mamaku too

The entrance to the nest

It's been another great day at Zealandia.  It really made me appreciate how much work behind the scenes goes on to help these birds and animals to survive and breed in the valley.  
After  that, Ellen and I ventured off to Wrights Hill again and wandering along the track I spotted another forest gecko - the second in the same day.  It was great to see it outside of the predator proof fence.  It was about 12cm long.  I haven't seen a gecko or skink out in the wild since I was a child so it was pretty special to spot this one today.

A forest gecko on one of the tracks on Wrights Hill

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