Mangapapa welcomes visiting kaka

SQUAWKY VISITOR: The kaka feeds on the nectar of a pohutakawa tree in Mangapapa. Picture by Danny Ryan

A SQUAWKING kaka fuelled by the nectar of pohutakawa flowers has kept Mangapapa residents entertained for the past month.

Danny Ryan, who sent a photo of the parrot to The Herald, said it had mainly spent its time in pohutakawa on Mangapapa Reserve.

“It was really cool to have it here. It was really loud and sounded like a cockatoo.

“It was loving the pohutakawa, but it was getting bullied by tui. They would get in groups and harass the kaka. They must have been after the same food.”

Mr Ryan’s seven-year old daughter Cass was particularly intrigued by the large, boisterous parrot.

Cass would watch it every day, before and after school, as it ate berries from the pohutukawa trees, often doing so while hanging upside down from the branches.

“I liked when it made the loud squawking sound.”

She had not yet given it a name, although “Squawky” was in the running.

“At the neighbour’s it played with a group of tui. It looked like they were playing tag.”

The kaka belongs to the nestorinae family, which includes the kea.

The endemic bird is classed as “at-risk” in the North Island, “nationally-vulnerable” in the South Island and extinct on the Chatham Islands.

Flocks gather to socialise

Flocks of boisterous kaka gather early morning and late evening to socialise.

Their antics and raucous voice led Maori to refer to them as chattering and gossiping.

When Europeans arrived in New Zealand, kaka was in abundance throughout the forests of both islands but by 1930 the birds were localised to a few areas. Kaka require large tracts of forest to survive. Habitat loss from clearance for agriculture and logging have had a devastating effect.

Browsing by introduced pests such as possums, deer and pigs has reduced the abundance of food.

Possums eat the same kind of food as kaka, and introduced wasps compete with it for honeydew on beech trees.

Having evolved in the absence of mammalian predators, kaka are also easy prey to stoats, rats and possums (which eat chicks and eggs).

While they are less common in metropolitan areas, due to a lack of habitat and predators, a restoration and breeding programme at Wellington’s Zealandia urban ecosanctuary has increased their population in the capital from almost extinct to more than 800.

DoC ranger Jamie Quirk said it was not unusual to see kaka in Gisborne.

“They usually come late winter, and disappear into the back-country around this time.”

Kaka would at one time have been more common in the Gisborne area.

“They nest in holes of podocarp trees. Now we usually get one or two sightings in Gisborne a year.”

A SQUAWKING kaka fuelled by the nectar of pohutakawa flowers has kept Mangapapa residents entertained for the past month.

Danny Ryan, who sent a photo of the parrot to The Herald, said it had mainly spent its time in pohutakawa on Mangapapa Reserve.

“It was really cool to have it here. It was really loud and sounded like a cockatoo.

“It was loving the pohutakawa, but it was getting bullied by tui. They would get in groups and harass the kaka. They must have been after the same food.”

Mr Ryan’s seven-year old daughter Cass was particularly intrigued by the large, boisterous parrot.

Cass would watch it every day, before and after school, as it ate berries from the pohutukawa trees, often doing so while hanging upside down from the branches.

“I liked when it made the loud squawking sound.”

She had not yet given it a name, although “Squawky” was in the running.

“At the neighbour’s it played with a group of tui. It looked like they were playing tag.”

The kaka belongs to the nestorinae family, which includes the kea.

The endemic bird is classed as “at-risk” in the North Island, “nationally-vulnerable” in the South Island and extinct on the Chatham Islands.

Flocks gather to socialise

Flocks of boisterous kaka gather early morning and late evening to socialise.

Their antics and raucous voice led Maori to refer to them as chattering and gossiping.

When Europeans arrived in New Zealand, kaka was in abundance throughout the forests of both islands but by 1930 the birds were localised to a few areas. Kaka require large tracts of forest to survive. Habitat loss from clearance for agriculture and logging have had a devastating effect.

Browsing by introduced pests such as possums, deer and pigs has reduced the abundance of food.

Possums eat the same kind of food as kaka, and introduced wasps compete with it for honeydew on beech trees.

Having evolved in the absence of mammalian predators, kaka are also easy prey to stoats, rats and possums (which eat chicks and eggs).

While they are less common in metropolitan areas, due to a lack of habitat and predators, a restoration and breeding programme at Wellington’s Zealandia urban ecosanctuary has increased their population in the capital from almost extinct to more than 800.

DoC ranger Jamie Quirk said it was not unusual to see kaka in Gisborne.

“They usually come late winter, and disappear into the back-country around this time.”

Kaka would at one time have been more common in the Gisborne area.

“They nest in holes of podocarp trees. Now we usually get one or two sightings in Gisborne a year.”

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