Kiwi egg could hatch another white Chick

MATHEW GROCOTT reports (Last updated 12:00 14/01/2014) for The Standard that staff and visitors at Pukaha Mt Bruce are hoping for another white kiwi after The Department of Conservation-run wildlife sanctuary at the bottom of the Tararua District revealed it was caring for two eggs from the father of Manukura last week. Manukura is a white kiwi born in 2011 that gained international media attention.

Manukura’s father carries the recessive gene responsible for white feathers, so there is a chance his offspring will be white like Manukura and two other birds born at the the same centre after Manukura.

One egg hatched on Friday night, revealing a North Island brown kiwi without the white feather genes.

Centre manager Helen Tickner said “We still have one [egg] that might produce a white kiwi for us, there’s an outside chance.”

“We don’t know who the mother of the egg is but kiwi generally stick together,” Ms Tickner said.

If the eggs were laid by Manukura’s, and the other two white Kiwi’s, mother there is a 25 per cent chance of another white Kiwi.

Seven kiwi have hatched at Mt Bruce since September 2013. Six more eggs being cared for.

Ms Tickner said it had been a successful breeding season at Mt Bruce.

The Operation Nest Egg programme has Pukaha staff members monitor eggs laid in the forest for about 70 days, at which point the eggs are taken to a secure nursery for incubation. Ms Tickner said North Island brown kiwi chicks have about a 5 per cent chance of survival in the wild. In captivity those odds increased to about 65 per cent.

After hatching kiwi are raised to a weight at which they’re able to defend themselves from predators before being released back into the centre’s 942-hectare forest reserve, which is protected by an intensive predator-trapping programme.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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