Today, the new chick was to be fitted with identification bands. It sounds easy, doesn’t it but setting up took time. Ladders and a considerable amount of gear had to get up a ridge and through the bush, weaving through trees and bushes and finally up and secured for climbing. Yesterday Greg (kokako kaitiaki/guardian) had to photograph the nest so he could send pictures to Amanda and Dave (kokako experts, tree climbers & banders). They would decide from the pictures if the chick was big enough to be banded, then drive 2 1/2 hours to our site.
The ladder we used yesterday wasn’t quite long enough and Greg was fully extended with his camera at arm’s length above his head, shooting video of the nest. Dave would never reach the chick from there so we took another ladder today to add to the one already in place and make up the shortfall to the top of the tree fern.
When the team arrived, the ladder was in place and we were ready for operation banding. Sue checked Mother Kokako’s whereabouts with her monitoring equipment. She was on the nest. We would wait for her to leave to feed before Dave climbed to retrieve the chick.
An hour later, Mum still hadn’t moved. Dave decided not to wait any longer.
As he reached the top of the ladder, Mum flew off. Dave couldn’t see into the nest but felt his way, located the chick and popped it into a black cloth bag, all while standing on a ladder about 9 meters above ground..
Back on the ground, Amanda weighed the chick, a whopping 140 grams while Dave tried to rid himself of a coating of needle like fern fuzz. Bands were put on both legs, metal & red on the right to signify the chick was Manawahe born and red and yellow on the left to say, ‘I am Tūmanako‘. Tūmanako is the Māori word for hope.
The chick is about 16 days old and is growing the telltale Zoro mask.
The tiny wattles are more pink than blue.
How cute is that?
Once banded, Dave delivered the chick back to the nest, less than 15 minutes after bringing it down. Mum and Dad stayed nearby throughout the whole operation and were likely just waiting for us to leave. Amanda assured us that they had never had parents abandon a chick after banding.
We dismantled the climbing equipment as quickly as we could and left the birds alone to recover from their fright. Four hours after arriving at the nest site we celebrated with a team photo back at the cars.
It is a privilege to work with professionals like Greg, Amanda & Dave and the dedicated volunteers who give up their time and energy to make sure future generations get to experience our unique wild life.