Kiwi take risks for hy­dra­tion

The Bay Chronicle - - WHAT’S ON - ANNETTE LAMBLY

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.

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