Hawke's Bay bird watchers were filled with delight after they spotted one of New Zealand's favourite parrots in Pakowhai Park this month.

Three Hawke's Bay Regional Council caretakers were finishing their lunch when their observant dog Pickles spotted a curious kākā in the tree above their lunch spot.

The endangered parrots were released in Hawke's Bay as part of a translocation programme run under Poutiri Ao ō Tāne at Boundary Stream Mainland Island and Cape Sanctuary.
Browsing by introduced pests such as possums, deer and pigs has reduced the abundance of food, making the parrots vulnerable.

Possums also eat the same kind of food as kākā, most significantly, high energy food types such as endemic mistletoe and rātā.

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Department of Conservation Ahuriri-Napier senior biodiversity ranger Denise Fastier said it was not unusual to see kākā in Hawke's Bay's urban areas because they fly down to escape snow on the mountains.

"This year we've had reported sightings of kākā as far away as Waipukurau, and closer to the birds' home, people have reported seeing them in Havelock North on Napier Hill and in Pakowhai Regional Park."

To date, the Poutiri Ao ō Tāne programme had seen 21 kākā released at Boundary Stream and up to five unbanded birds (birds that weren't part of the translocation) have since been sighted.

"More could be out there though, as kākā are prolific breeders – some pairs produce as many as 10 chicks a year."

Fastier said the time chicks spend in the nest before they fledge – up to three months – is when they are most vulnerable to predators such as ferrets.

"Their smell combined with the fact their nests often have only one way in and out make kākā chicks easy prey.

"Translocation programmes, together with predator control, are vital to the survival of the kākā. We hope that translocations will help rejuvenate existing populations in the Kaweka Forest Park and Maungataniwha Native Forest."

The growth in population remained positive in Hawke's Bay with kākā spotted at Boundary Stream and in the Kawekas, as well as Maungataniwha since 2016.

Cape Sanctuary staff also reported seeing wild kaka around their aviaries.