Kakapow! Rare world’s fattest parrot has record breeding season

These three kakapo chicks on their nest on Codfish Island, also known as Whenua Hou, are among the 249 eggs that have hatched so far in this year’s breeding season. (New Zealand Department of Conservation/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Kakapow! Rare world’s fattest parrot has record breeding season

  • Females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand’s native rimu trees are full of fruit
  • The surviving kakapo — whose name means ‘night parrot’ in Maori — are kept on four predator-free islands

WELLINGTON: The world’s fattest parrot, the critically endangered kakapo, has enjoyed a record-breaking breeding season, New Zealand scientists said Thursday, with climate change possibly aiding the species’ unique mating spree.
Less than 50 years after the flightless nocturnal bird was thought to have been extinct, at least 75 chicks are expected to survive this year, Andrew Digby, a science adviser to New Zealand’s kakapo recovery, operation said.
Digby oversees a breeding program so precisely monitored that scientists can state the last of 249 eggs laid will hatch on Friday.
It will significantly boost the population which has grown to 147 adults since a small number of the plump green, yellow and black birds was discovered in 1970.
Digby described the kakapo as an “unusual” parrot as the females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when New Zealand’s native rimu trees are full of fruit.
“We don’t quite know what the trigger is but one of the things we are looking at is that the rimu berry is really high in vitamin D, a super food basically, which is associated with fertility and health,” he said.
The rimu trees have produced a bumper crop this year with Digby saying one theory was that climate change and temperature fluctuations could be behind the berry bonanza.
The surviving kakapo — whose name means “night parrot” in Maori — are kept on four predator-free islands off the New Zealand coast.
At the start of the breeding season, the males which weigh about 4 kilograms (nine pounds), put themselves on display while the females choose a partner.
They mate and then end the relationship, shutting the male out of the incubation and rearing processes.
The kakapo recovery program is so tightly monitored that although they remain in the wild, each one has a radio transmitter attached to its body and there are monitoring systems embedded in their nests.
Digby knew that of the 50 adult females, 49 produced 249 eggs, of which 89 have so far hatched and 75 were expected to make it to adulthood.
That is more than double the success rate from the last breeding season three years ago.
“It’s probably one of the most intensively managed species in the world,” said Digby, who wants at least 500 birds before any thought is given to easing up the intensity of the recovery operation.


1 year after wedding: Harry and Meghan have new home, son

Updated 18 May 2019
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1 year after wedding: Harry and Meghan have new home, son

  • The besotted couple wed on May 19, 2018 before rapt crowds outside of Windsor Castle

LONDON: It’s been an eventful first year of marriage for Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle, now known formally as the Duchess of Sussex.
The besotted couple wed on May 19, 2018 before rapt crowds outside of Windsor Castle, with one of the largest TV audiences ever assembled.
The couple was lucky enough to enjoy beautiful spring weather on their wedding day. They made the best of it by taking a carriage ride through Windsor.
They maintained a frenetic pace of official engagements until Meghan withdrew from most royal duties in March ahead of the birth of their first child, Archie, who was born this month.
Harry and Meghan have also moved from central London to a more secluded location near Windsor Castle in a quest for privacy.