New Zealanders identify strongly with our national bird. Land locked in the bottom corner of the South Pacific isolated for 80 million years. These strange birds that had no need to fly, have a strong sense of smell, come out at night, and lay one giant egg per clutch are in desperate need of help to survive as a species. With only 5% of each egg laid in the wild making it to adulthood these birds are in real danger of becoming extinct off of the mainland.
This special case, Department of Conservation worker Jamie Quirk, pulled this bird named Quirky from the wild to be reared in Rotorua at Rainbow Springs as part of a national program called Operation Nest Egg. Once they are in Rotorua, they are incubated for the remainder of the 70 day incubation period, before hatching and then fattened up to reach a fighting weight of 1100g. This ensures the birds have a real chance in the wild where they may face introduced predators such as rats, cats, possums, dogs, and the main killer - stoats!
Quirky the Kiwi spent some time in the creche up in Motu being cared for and monitored by the Winray Ecological Charitable Trust surrounded by a predator proof fence. Once he was ready, there was a little send off where Jamie said farewell to Quirky in the Winray Reserve which is at the top of the Motu Trails.
Once these Kiwis become of age, the radio tracker is cut off, they are released into a safer area where workers and volunteers work year round to remove the predators by setting traps and bait stations to ensure these strange creatures the best chance of survival and the chance to breed.