A fleet-footed kiwi chick didn't waste anytime scuttling through the undergrowth after being released to discover its new home in Whangārei's Pukenui Forest.
The 47-day old chick, yet to named, sat for just three seconds before running off through the grass and undergrowth yesterday. The baby kiwi, weighing in at 433gm, has had an inauspicious start to life but it's hoped the bird will thrive in 1700 hectares of native bush on the fringes of Whangārei city.
It is the second chick from the 12 kiwi released in the Pukenui Western Hills last March.
The first chick hatched naturally in the bush in October last year after a good effort by sitting dad Chuckles. But for the second chick the story was a little different.
Pukenui Western Hills Forest Trust rangers Bevan Cramp and Ben Lovell had taken the egg from under a male kiwi named Waimarie on November 9 last year.
Cramp said a desertion signal was detected coming from Waimarie and the rangers trekked into the bush to check.
"This signal tells us that the father sitting has either left or was about to leave the nest.
"Often when this happens the chick has hatched or grown to size and the father leaves it to fend for itself."
Upon investigation Waimarie was discovered still sitting on the egg but as a precaution the rangers took the egg in case it was abandoned after their visit to the nest.
Monitoring of the birds showed Waimarie had been sitting on the nest for 125 days and he may have become frustrated waiting for the egg to hatch.
Cramp said they checked the egg with a torch, looking for veins, which would indicate the egg was living.
"We failed to find any veins but there didn't seem to be any discolouration or other defects on the egg so we took it to Robert Webb at the Bird Recovery Centre for a second opinion," Cramp said.
Webb was of the opinion it was definitely alive and would hatch soon. The precious egg was placed in an incubator and 19 days later the chick started breaking free.
Since then it has been at the centre gaining the necessary weight required before release.
Yesterday Cramp and Lovall led a select group into the forest for the release.
Seeing the chick disappear into the Gahnia grass was a great feeling for the two rangers.
"The end goal is to get the kiwi to a point where they are breeding a self-sustaining population and we can walk away and leave them to it," Cramp said.
"With this chick being the second born we are off to a good start."
The chick was microchipped so if rangers come across it again they will be able to identify it.
Cramp renewed his appeal for dog owners to keep their pets out of the forest. There was at least one report a month of dogs in the forest and in particular around the Coronation Reserve area.
It normally takes between 75 and 80 days for an egg to hatch, with the chicks hatching fully feathered, eyes open and able to walk.