The Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre has been inundated with dehydrated birds as Northland's hot weather "plays havoc" on the animals.

Five kiwi - mainly from Kerikeri, eight kingfisher chicks, eight kūkupa (wood pigeon) chicks and nine tui chicks have been brought into the centre dehydrated since about Christmas time.

Robert Webb, co-founder of the centre, believes it will only get worse as temperatures rise.

"It plays havoc on all the birds, there is no doubt about it," he said.


"I still don't think we're at the hottest part of our time yet either. We [normally] start getting little kiwi chicks at the end of January, so goodness knows what we're going to be in for if this heat continues."

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Webb said it was tough summer for the kiwi. One of the birds brought in, found in the middle of a paddock, had sadly died.

"When they're injured quite often they'll go looking for water and they go into farmers' paddocks because in the evening there is a certain amount of dew on the grass. It cools them down as well and they can try to get a drink by wiping their bills on it.

"But they get out in the middle of the paddocks, the sun comes up and they're caught out in the heat because they're not feeling well and they've been injured."

Webb said kiwi would also wander on to roads to find water in drains and end up being hit by cars.

"You've got increased traffic, increased visitor numbers, bikes, cars - all that sort of thing and of course a drought comes along and it just adds to it.

"That's why we're saying to farmers if you put a dish of water somewhere, just a shallow dish around the place, the kiwi will really appreciate it."

Hot weather means kiwi - like this one - are being brought into the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre dehydrated. Photo / John Stone
Hot weather means kiwi - like this one - are being brought into the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre dehydrated. Photo / John Stone

Webb said there have been more kiwi in the centre than usual at this time of year.

"Normally over Christmas you'll get the odd kiwi coming in that's been hit on the road. But they won't be dehydrated. All the ones we're getting in have all been dehydrated, and they just don't have the strength."

But kiwi aren't the only birds affected by the hot weather.

Webb said tui, kingfisher and kūkupa chicks were escaping the nests too early in an effort to get out of the heat, and as a result were dying or becoming dehydrated.

Webb said when kiwi are brought in to the centre, they are put out of the heat and are injected with fluids. Other birds are given fluids orally and food with lots of moisture.

Webb said he was just pleased he was able to help the birds.

"If we weren't here, what would be happening with them? Yes it might increase our workload a lot and get us busy, and we use a lot of resources up and funding. But to think that a bird is going to go back in the wild at the end of the day because we've helped - to me that's what it's all about."