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There’s no place like home for Kupe the kaka

Press Release
31 January 2005

There’s no place like home

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CAPTION: Kupe the kaka with Conservation Officer Matu Booth.

Staff at Wellington’s Karori Wildlife Sanctuary were surprised when one of their youngest kaka found its way more than 130 kilometres to the National Wildlife Centre, at Mt Bruce in the Wairarapa last year.

But the smart native parrot proved it was no fluke when it made the return trip to the Sanctuary eight months later, in January this year.

“Kaka are known for flying long distances, but at four months old this bird was particularly young when it began its journey,” says Sanctuary Conservation Scientist, Raewyn Empson.

“The first we, and Mt Bruce, knew about it was when it turned up there and started bossing the resident kaka around,” Raewyn says. “Then it disappeared last December, and turned up again at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary a few weeks later, in January.”

Sanctuary Conservation Officer, Ron Goudswaard, who was the first to note the banded bird on its return, speculates that it may have left the Sanctuary because it was not getting enough attention from its parents.

“Generally kaka chicks stay with their parents until they are about five months old but this was the only one to fledge in that clutch, so they promptly had a second clutch”.

Kaka from Kapiti Island regularly fly to the mainland. An unbanded bird arrived at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, which may have come from Kapiti Island. Another kaka taken from Kapiti Island and released in the Tararua’s has been seen as far away as Wairoa.

And a bird from Mt Bruce has been spotted dining 80 kilometres away in Wanganui. Kaka also regularly commute between Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf and the mainland.

“What’s different about this bird is that it was so young,” says Raewyn.

For now, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary’s high-flying kaka, named Kupe by staff, is back with the Sanctuary’s 20-strong flock.


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