Kakapo chick going south after big storm
A kakapo chick who fought through a cyclone and pneumonia to stay alive has flown to Invercargill to make new friends.
Heather One weighed just 43 grams when she was brought to Auckland Zoo almost two months ago.
The little chick should have weighed about 101 grams, the Department of Conservation’s Leigh Joyce says.
Heather One had caught pneumonia and struggled to gain weight after Cyclone Lusi’s high winds hit Little Barrier Island in March.
‘‘I had a camera inside the nest and you can actually see the whole burrow distorting,’’ the kakapo ranger says.
‘‘You can see the roots moving, you can see the camera moving so I suspect because she was on the ridgeline, although Cyclone Lusi didn’t come to much in Auckland, we had quite high winds and the whole tree was swaying.’’
Mother Heather was feeding her chicks hourly but Joyce had to intervene.
The 10-day-old chick had trouble breathing and her life was in danger.
DOC rangers spent the night carrying Heather One down from the nest and took her to Auckland.
The zoo’s conservation science and research manager Richard Jakob-Hoff says the kakapo was put in an incubator and fed parrotrearing mix every two hours.
‘‘When she came in she was actu- ally very, very sick. We really weren’t sure she was going to survive and so she had to have really intensive treatment for quite a while.
‘‘It probably took 10 days to a fortnight before she really started to look well.’’
She was on a nebuliser to get medication straight to her lungs, as well as oral antibiotics and antifungal drugs.
After a feed, staff touch the sides of her beak with their fingers to make her ‘‘beg’’.
This simulates her mother feeding her and helps the food settle.
Heather One’s had some diarrhoea which delayed her trip. But the inquisitive chick was feeling much better when the Central Leader visited on Monday.
Jakob-Hoff admits he’s got a soft spot for the wee parrot.
‘‘She’s so cute. I mean we’re not really supposed to get attached to them but I’ll tell you what, it’s impossible. She’s so sweet.
‘‘They’re really intelligent. You can see that, the way she looks at you, you can see it in her eyes.’’
Heather One has now been flown to Invercargill to meet two other kakapo.
Little fighter: Heather One chows down on a carrot during one of her five daily feeds at Auckland Zoo.
Go to centralleader.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch Auckland Zoo staff feed Heather One.