The Nest Kit contains an ingenious array of gadgets to help ensure every kākāpō nest will have as much chance of success as possible.
At the centre of the kit is a small infrared camera, which is set up inside the nest to provide a view of what is going on there at all times.
The camera is linked by cable to a small hand held screen, which is viewed inside a ‘nest-minder’ tent nearby.
The job of the nest-minder is to watch the screen for an hour at the beginning of the evening to make sure everything is going well at the nest, and then to monitor the eggs and chicks whenever the kākāpō mother enters or leaves the nest in search of food.
Of course, staring at a black-and-white screen all night is a little boring, so the job of the nest-minder is made easier by a door-chime. This is activated whenever the kākāpō mother leaves or enters the nest and breaks an infrared beam set up across the entrance. It is a signal for the minder to start paying attention.
For the first four days after the chicks hatch, the nest-minder will have to leave the warmth of their sleeping bag and actually go down to the nest to keep the chicks warm.
This is possible because the Nest Kit also contains a small ‘electric blanket’ that can be put over the unattended chicks while the mother goes away foraging for food. The blanket is a round piece of copper sheeting, which is heated by a small heating element and thermostat and covered in a fleece case. It is soft and delicate and portable and provides the chicks with just the amount of warmth they would experience from their mother’s body.