He is responsible for the artificial incubation and hand-raising of any chicks or eggs that are in trouble in the wild.
Each rescue has meant an intensive period of toil for Daryl, providing the birds with all the care and nurturing their mothers would give them, and then teaching them how to fend for themselves in the wild.
It’s an exciting, full-on process,” Daryl says. “I find it a real challenge.”
While we would prefer that chicks are reared naturally, because they will be better birds behaviourally and psychologically, I am happy with the ones we have raised.”
Coming back to see the birds after they have been released into the wild is great. It is so good to see them living as normal birds doing normal things, and not being dependent on humans anymore.”
When Daryl started on the kākāpō team, only one chick had been hand-raised, so staff were cautious about intervening in the nesting. “We didn’t want to hand-raise any birds unless absolutely necessary.”
But we have got better each year and now recognise problems earlier and can deal with them more confidently. We really feel this is starting to pay off for the population.”
Daryl says the skills of bird rearing come naturally to him. “It’s just something that I have always been interested in and wanted to do, and seem to be good at doing.”
In between breeding seasons, Daryl is in charge of the on-going management of the kākāpō population.