Runaway love birds back safe and sound

Takahē pair returned to Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

Last Updated : 29 Jan 2020
Runaway love birds
 Takahe pair Whito and Kikorango arrive back at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary after their adventure.

After making their escape late last month, we are happy to report takahē pair Whito and Kikorango are back safe and sound and unharmed at Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.

Senior Ranger Open Sanctuaries Matt Maitland says they believe the pair possibly escaped at low tide.

“The pest-proof and takahē containment fences extend to the high tide but not below, meaning there is some opportunity for egress at low tide. We have placed the takahē containment fence up to a headland to limit this low tide opportunity,” he says.

Weekly radio telemetry monitoring detected the pair beyond park’s boundary and they were picked up 1.8km away, approximately halfway to Omaha.

When asked how long the birds were at large, Matt said their best guess was 24 hours, although it could have been as long as six days based on the last confirmed monitoring record.

The birds were in generally good condition when they were found. Matt said Whito, the female, has always been light but was particularly light when she was recovered.

“Since being back, the pair has been penned together with access to supplementary food to help them settle down and to help Whito gain some weight.

“While they are temporarily penned they are unable to escape but once returned to the park they can follow the same route if motivated.”

The beginning of the breeding season is the likely reason behind the escape and the pair may have been looking for a more secluded breeding territory.

“Also, the dominant neighbouring group of three takahē had been encroaching into the regular territory of Whito and Kikorango and they may have felt pressured.

“Our challenge is to minimise any territorial pressure between neighbouring groups of takahē so the birds are comfortable staying put, as they have been in the two years since coming to Tawharanui Open Sanctuary.”

Whito and Kikorango are just two of 14 takahē residing at the open sanctuary, most of which have come from various island locations, including Tiritiri Matangi, and the Burwood Bush breeding unit in Southland. Takahē are classified as critically endangered, with around 285 birds globally.

“Many thanks to the TOSSI volunteers who monitor the birds every week and in this case detected the escapees. Thanks too to council’s park rangers and TOSSI volunteers who made themselves available to recapture and return the birds.

“We are also very grateful to our park neighbours who allowed access through their land.”

Thank you to the Mahurangi Matters for sharing their video.

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