Kiwi Season

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Sunset over the island in New Zealand

Steph is studying North Island brown kiwis on a private island in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. Read her previous post, Kiwis and Ticks.

With Rose’s departure just before Christmas, work on the kiwi island became a little quieter in January. That didn’t stop the kiwis from being plenty active, though! We found Dario sitting on his second nest, which means his female laid an egg quite late in the season. The kiwis here don’t want to acknowledge the ticking clock of seasonal change!

When I realized the seasons would be swapped down here from what I grew up with in the U.S., I expected to have a warm, dry summer in December and January. Unfortunately (according to many kiwi people), this summer has been very wet and cold. Of course, none of the farmers mind all of the rain we’ve been getting! I’ve been told the island rarely looks so green at this time of year! While the rain has likely made foraging easier for the kiwis, some chicks have died, probably because they aren’t hiding well enough or staying dry. Luckily, the rain has not prevented us from having some beautiful sunsets!

Recording equipment is mounted to a tree in kiwi habitat.

We had a visitor come to the island to collect a different sort of data from our kiwis. One researcher from Wellington, New Zealand, came up to record the kiwis calling at night. He set up recording stations on some trees and collected the chorus of bush sounds, the chirps of cicadas, the scurrying of rats, the rustle of wind, the calls of morepork (native owls), and the shrieks of the kiwi. When he played the recordings in the cabin, some of us were very confused to hear kiwis calling in the daytime! They don’t make the most beautiful sound, but the cry of a kiwi is a sound to remember.

Steph Walden is a volunteer for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.