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Fewer birds but more activity

Although there have been fewer birds coming to the release aviary in recent weeks, and fewer birds to release, there is still plenty of activity and many birds can be heard calling in the distance.

We are aware that four or possibly five pairs of birds have established their territories nearby and hopefully there are other birds beyond those that we can hear. None are being radio tracked at present.

We are required by our release permit to put radio transmitters on at least 10% of the birds released so that we can track their progress.

The last radio we attached was hooked off the bird while it was under an overgrown elaeagnus hedge. That took some finding over several days of patient clipping away.

Some time ago we recovered a radio off the carcass of a bird under eight feet of water in the Ohinemuri River. Being valued at $300 each, it is important that we recover them.

Our resident "wild" wekas, Joe and Elsie, continue to come for food on the back lawn several times a day. We keep cooked spaghetti noddles there in ajar of water to prevent other birds stealing them.

However, as soon as Joe and Elsie arrive they are usually joined by several sparrows on the lookout for "crumbs".

Joe and Elsie also enjoy cheese and will come quite close to us when we toss small pieces to them.

Many people have experienced weka as being cheeky birds but, traditionally, the North Island species is more timid than the South Island species.

One theory behind this is that, with a greater population of people in the North, the braver ones were captured and the more timid ones escaped. Consequently, over a long period of time, a more timid bird has evolved. Whether or not there is any truth in that theory, we don't know!