Weka Watch files
Tuesday, September 6, 1994
Away with the birds during dinner!
Weka rule our lives! We now have to choose between a late evening meal or a very interrupted one!
All recently-released birds can be accounted for, either by seeing or hearing them or by radio tracking.
We are now able to differentiate between male and female calls and this has helped us to identify three pairs of birds, which is most encouraging. Recent reports from neighbours have been much appreciated.
Evening and early morning calls lets the rest of the population know: "This is my territory". When birds have formed a pair bond, they call in "duet". A number of other calls have particular meanings.
Sadly, we have had a couple of recent deaths in the release aviary. As the North Island weka has been declared a "threatened species" and as our breeding of them is very much a learning experience, all unexplained deaths have to be investigated.
Unless we can get a dead bird to an expert immediately we are encouraged to do initial autopsies ourselves, preserving the essential organs. We are not enthused by that idea! Fortunately, we are now able to send dead birds to Auckland Zoo.
Autopsies are revealing that the weka is very prone to the same diseases as domestic poultry and this could be the reason for the decline of the weka, once widespread throughout the North Island.
Long-time residents of our area can testify to the weka being common here up to about 70 years ago.
Our last chicks have now been moved to the release aviary. One of our breeding pairs has had a failed clutch of eggs, but they are now sitting again. The other pair has successfully hatched more chicks. Despite our efforts to watch out for them, we are not sure if there are two or three chicks.