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Familiar song makes kokako feel at home


Department of Conservation and Auckland Regional Council

17 August 2006

Familiar song makes kokako feel at home

An innovative new birdsong technique being trialled in the Kokako Management Area will hopefully make new birds feel at home in the Hunua Ranges. Twenty North Island kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) from Mapara in the King Country will be translocated by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) to the Hunua Ranges during August and September.

This translocation will strengthen and boost the existing remnant population of kokako, consisting of about ten pairs, which is managed and protected in the Hunua Regional Parkland. Sound recordings from Mapara will be played to "anchor" the new birds to their new home. DOC Auckland Area Manager Beau Fraser says, "Kokako from different areas have different dialects, therefore it is important to integrate the birds carefully and give them a feeling of familiarity by using their own song."

This methodology, known as 'sound anchoring' has been successfully used in the northern Urewera Ranges with several pairs of kokako establishing in the area around the sound anchoring point. It is hoped that offspring of these 10 pairs will mate with the birds that are already established in the Hunua Kokako Management Area and strengthen the genetic diversity of the population. The offspring may learn the local dialect and culturally assimilate with the Hunua birds. Auckland Regional Council Chairman Michael Lee says, "The ARC initiated this programme in 1993 and is very proud of the progress being made and being instrumental in rescuing the Hunua kokako population from certain extinction.

The new King Country birds are reinforcements and will add genetic diversity to the Hunua population."

Intensive management in Mapara has resulted in 73 pairs of kokako, allowing this gift to Hunua being made by Ngati Maniapoto from Mapara to the tangata whenua of Hunua; Ngati Paoa, Ngai Tai o Umupuia and Ngati Tama Oho. The Hunua population was down to one breeding female but has increased to about ten breeding pairs after ten years of active management.

This programme is a partnership between the Department of Conservation and the Auckland Regional Council. The DOC Auckland Conservancy provides expertise in bird management and translocation. The ARC provides an intensive predator control programme in the management area and coordinates a strong network of volunteers.


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