Global bird news: Two young kiwis have been born in the wild in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Wellington is located on the North Island’s Bay, has a population of 400,000 and is about the same size as “Manhattan and Brooklyn combined”. The New York Times Wrote on December 4th.
This is the first time in living memory that eggs have been hatched in an urban environment, in this case in suburban Makara. Since 2016, the government has set up an intensive program, The Capital Kiwi Project, to rescue the flightless national bird in the city. The two chicks are living proof of this. According to the US newspaper, the fluffy kiwi nest was discovered behind a “curtain of dead branches in a meter-high fence”.
Kiwis are shy, flightless, nocturnal birds, perfectly adapted to life on the ground. Chocolate-colored feathers provide good shelter. The kiwi has a nostril at the end of its long beak. Its extraordinary sense of smell allows it to find food on the ground. They are strange, evocative birds with rat whiskers and dinosaur-like legs. Locals also call the birds “long-legged butter”.
At one time, before the colonial era that began in 1800, about 12 million Kiwis lived on the other side of the world in an archipelago divided into five distinct ethnic groups. Settlers came with rats, dogs, cats, merciless hunters and stoats. Numbers plummeted dramatically and the species would have become extinct if not for intensive conservation programs. About 70,000 Kiwis now live there, most of them in remote locations.
The city bustle drove the animals away, but they are now reluctantly returning to the built-up area. Calculations indicate that the population is declining by 2 percent each year, and 95 percent of newborns do not survive their first year of life.
To deter poachers, there are 5,000 traps in and around Makar. Farmers, students and local residents work together to keep the environment free of predators, which is the only way reintroduction can succeed. 63 kiwis have been released in Makara and are now believed to be producing offspring. And then at night the flightless bird is back in the city.
All to save the Kiwis
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