Kiwi take risks for hydration
Kiwi are under threat from the current dry conditions in Northland and as a result are taking risks to come out from their normal habitat to wipe their bills on the grass dew.
Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre manager Robert Webb says the thirsty kiwi are coming out into paddocks and other grassed areas to get the moisture off the grass.
‘‘They keep walking following the moisture and become disorientated. When the sun comes up ‘‘they curl up in a ball and go to sleep - the sun dehydrates them further and basically ’cooks’ them.
‘‘A lot of farmers leave water in shallow bowls out near the bush edge - they reckon they have had the odd kiwi pinch water (and food) from the cat’s dish so they know the birds come out in search of water.’’
Webb encourages anyone living near a bush area or paddocks that back on to bush to do the same.
However he reminds people to ensure their dogs are tied up or caged at night.
‘‘A dog can smell a kiwi 100 metres away,’’ he says.
Webb says droughts are problem for all birds.This summer the centre has had three kiwi brought in, one only 15 days old and weighing only 219gms.
‘‘It was borderline whether he would survive but he is 310gms now. We will wait for more rain and he is at least 500gms before we release him.’’
Webb says they have got four baby wood pidgeons and two baby owls. One of the owls has likely been pushed out of the nest by its mother because it has a deformed beak.
The other has likely been rejected because, ’’When the parent birds can’t keep the chicks cool - they chuck one or two out.’’
Farmers are asked to put a batten or piece of wood in their troughs to act as a ladder so birds - and in particular Harrier Hawks can drink, without the risk of being unable to get out or falling in and drowning.
Farming advisors says the recent rain has been variable and while some parts of the region look green, it is very deceiving because the grass cover is only a couple of centimetres.
Another 100mls is still needed followed by regular periods of good rain before the drought is likely to lift.