The youngest kākāpō, the 2016 juveniles, are all doing well and are now indistinguishable from the adults they live amongst.
Over the last couple of months, the field rangers have caught up with all 32 of the young birds to give them their final vaccinations and the last of their frequent checks. From now on, outside of research needs and breeding seasons, we’ll only be seeing them each once a year for their annual health check and transmitter change.
The juveniles have dispersed widely over Whenua Hou and Pukenui/Anchor Island and have settled into home ranges, though it will be interesting to see who moves around during the summer and far they go. Some kākāpō have distinct and separate summer and winter ranges, while others don’t move so far between the seasons.
Faulkner in particular has been a challenge! He’s been living in some really dense, steep coastal scrub that is incredibly difficult for the rangers to get through, though not so much for a kākāpō. It took the rangers three attempts to catch him, despite being able to track him with his transmitter and even getting visual sightings on him during the earlier attempts. Third try was the charm though and we were eventually able to catch up with Faulkner and give him his overdue check up.
Some of the young birds also look quite different now that they’re all sporting their adult plumage! The first set of feathers grown by the chicks often has a lot stronger, more barred patterns to it than they do as adults. Check out the differences in Tītapu’s feathers below!
We’ll be catching up with all of the juveniles, as well as the adults, over the next couple of months for their annual health checks and transmitter changes, so hopefully we’ll have lots of stories and photos to share from that work.