Media Release – February 2013


COOK’S PETREL ON THEIR WAY

Local DOC ranger, Helen Jonas had the privilege to spend a week on Little Barrier Island, with volunteer Kathy Mitchell (a vet from Whangarei), to check on the Cooks Petrel Chicks. 

 150 chicks are to be translocated from Little Barrier Island to two projects in Hawke’s Bay, theCapeSanctuary(atCapeKidnappers) and the Poutiri O Tane project (at Boundary Stream).  The long term goal is to establish sustainable populations of Cooks Petrel on the Hawke’s Bay mainland.  Presently Cooks petrel only breed on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), there is a small population onGreatBarrierIsland, and a population onCodfishIsland(down nearStewart Island).  The population is estimated to be in the tens of thousands.  The birds forage along the east coast, so breeding in Hawke’s Bay shouldn’t be too far out of there way. After the breeding season ends they departNew Zealand’s shores to the eastern pacific ocean, with some travelling as far as the gulf of Alaska..

The purpose of the trip was to check on what stage the chicks were at – we checked already known burrows, weighing the chick and measuring its wing length.  This aids in determining what time to translocate them.  If we get the bird too early, there is too much work at the Hawke’s Bay end in keeping them fed.  If we get the birds too late they may not have enough time to imprint with the site, and thus return to it when they are matured and ready for breeding in several years.  It is believed the imprinting occurs in the final days before they fledge, when they are emerging from there burrows.  The chicks are due to be collected in March.

When the actual translocation takes place Kathy will be supervising the hydration and feeding of the chicks when they arrive in Hawke’s Bay.  More information about the Poutiri project can be found on the website www. poutiri.co.nz

The coming translocation will be the fourth for theCapeSanctuary, and the first for the Poutiri Ao o Tane project.  Both projects have artificial burrows already made in a predator proof area and this is where the chicks are placed after they were flown by helicopter directly from theIsland.  When the chicks fledge they won’t return to these burrows until they are ready to breed – in approximately 3 – 5 years time. TheCapeSanctuaryare expecting their first birds to start returning for breeding this coming winter.

 –Ends–

 

 

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