Feeding Kaka’s

Up to Canaan and down to the Wainui Hut bird cage again to feed four female native bush parrots – the kaka. This was for four days and just before they were to be released into the wilds to hopefully join up with the earlier releases. As with birds such as these, it is the females who are killed by the pest rats and stoats while they are on the nest with their eggs in a hollow tree which of course upsets the balance of things. Hopefully, the extensive trapping of the pests will help the birds to be successful with their breeding once again. The birds brought into the aviary all come from a captive breeding program. They are not caught in the wild.

I drove up to the old farmhouse which was to be my home for 4 days. Not much time to dwell on that though as after unloading some gear into the house it was time to prepare the food for the birds and hightail it to the Wainui Hut to meet the kaka. The way there was about a 15 minute walk up over farm paddocks to a saddle and then to follow the track down to the bird aviary which took about an hour.

A kaka selfie.

A kaka selfie.

The birds were quiet when I looked down on them so I gave a whistle as I approached the aviary but became excited when I was about to open the cage door. My job was to clean up their mess, empty and clean up the food trays then replace with fresh food. Replace the fresh water, bring in some fresh branches, lay about some new rotten branches or logs and to note how much was eaten and their behaviour.

The feed trays need replenishing.

The feed trays need replenishing..

The food is prepared at the farm house and is made up of fresh fruit, vegetables and sweet water. The fruit and vegetables are sliced or cut up as per instructions while the sweet water is made up of raspberry jam and water mixed, with the seeds removed. They really liked this but the supply was to be reduced to prepare them for life in the wilds.

Trampers came by now and then and on one occasion, a lady looked familiar so I said ‘I’ve seen you before’. Going by the look on her face, she probably thought I was trying to be a bit fresh and then I remembered that I had seen her several times in photos taken by one of the hut wardens on the Heaphy Track a few days before. Richard the hut warden had taken quite a number of photos and the lady, Anja, was the hut warden assistant on duty a couple of weeks before me.

A bird on the hand.

A bird on the hand.

The kakas were interesting birds, typical parrots I guess and as when I entered the cage, they flew around, seemingly quite excited, landing on my shoulder, head or even outstretched arm, while all the time inspecting everything and testing things with their beaks. This might have been my boots, laces, hat, spectacles, watch, ears, the back of my neck or even the ring on my finger! It was interesting to watch how they used their beaks, much like another foot, as they climbed about the aviary netting or on branches.

Outside the aviary door a weka hung about ready to steal anything shiny or removable, and on the walk in I saw and heard parakeets and watched robins watching me.

Towards the end of my time with the kaka, some Department of Conservation staff came and fitted a transmitter onto the back of each bird. There was much squawking and pecking at the small aerial but the next day all was normal.

Then they will be out in the wilds standing on their own two legs and beak. Good luck ladies.


  1. Derilyn Frusher

    This looks amazing and I would love to see these birds when I come over to visit your daughter

    • Hi Derilyn, If they have any of the birds ready to release over the time you are here, we can arrange a visit. Otherwise, maybe a trip to Zealandia Reserve in Wellington for sure.

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