Kaka are being re-introduced to the Abel Tasman, they are often mistaken for the kea, NZ most famous cheeky mountain parrot, and they do share the same genus Nestor. Kaka are also a sociable and noisy parrot like the kea, but instead of being mountain dweller the kaka is found in the lowland and mid-altitude native forest. From a distance the best way to tell them apart is by their cry, the kea’s cry being “keeeea” and the kaka’s cry is harsher and, also sounds like its name.
There are two subspecies of the kaka, the South Island kaka and the North Island kaka. The South Island kaka is slightly larger and has a brighter green plumage compared to the olive-brown plumage of the North Island Kaka. North Island kaka can be found in good numbers on off shore islands, and are considered ‘at risk’. South Island kaka can be found in large forest areas of the South Island (mostly along the west) they considered as ‘nationally endangered’. The decline in both subspecies is due to predation and the loss of large forest areas. The females are considered more prone to predation than the males- primarily during the time they are nesting. Consequently, there is a higher ratio of males to females in high predator number areas.
Kaka can get fixated on one food such as almonds, they do not have an inbuild sense telling them when they need to eat a certain food type for nutritional value when they are lacking. Therefore, they can become deficient in a nutrient and even cause their chicks to develop deficiencies resulting in death. They should eat a variety of fruit, berries, insets, grubs, seeds, and nectar.
Project Janzoon is slowly re-introducing kaka to the Abel Tasman National Park. Starting with female kaka. It is likely that the remaining resident kaka are male (due to the more highly predation of females on the nest by rats, possums and stoats). Of all the birds released so far, four females have remained in the park, three died of predation and lead poisoning. Not all of them decided to stay in the Abel Tasman, one bird even found a home down by the milk factory down in Takaka! Another three are to be released in November 2017.
Starts in September (spring), the kākā lays an average of four white eggs in a hollow tree or branch. The chicks take over two months to fledge and another five months to become totally independent. Nesting in tree hollows, they are vulnerable to predators.
Abel Tasman Eco Tours is on the roster to feed the three kaka currently acclimatising in Project Janszoon’s aviary for release in November. Come and join us for a day at Canaan and the stunning Wainui Valley, Abel Tasman National Park. Explore this rich and characterful area as part of our Promised Land Tour while participating in history. These birds should hopefully leave a beautiful legacy for future generations to enjoy. Book Now! or please see our Facebook page for local deals!
Photo Credits: Dave Buckton – Nelson Photography Tours