As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Good breeding season for Critically Endangered black stilt – Thanks to farmers

Farmers contribute to record black stilt season
March 2013. A record breeding season for the Critically Endangered black stilt (kaki) has been greatly helped by high country farmers.

Every year the Department of Conservation (DOC) collects kakī eggs from the wild for safe incubation at the Captive Breeding Centre in Twizel. Nearly half (46%) of all eggs taken this summer were collected from farmland in the Mackenzie and Waitaki basins with the cooperation of farmers.

Wet spring
A particularly wet spring saw many kakī abandoning their traditional braided riverbed habitat in favour of wet paddocks and hidden ponds on private land, says DOC biodiversity ranger Simone Cleland.

"We put the word out that we needed help to locate adult breeding pairs so we could collect eggs and got a fantastic response. We had one farmer who rang up to say he had found four eggs and he'd wait until we picked them up before moving his sheep into the paddock."

Ben Avon Station owner, Jim Morris, whose property in the Ahuriri valley also had breeding birds, says that this anecdote shows that conservation and production can work together with thought and effort from all parties.

Back from the brink of extinction
"The black stilt has been brought back from the brink of extinction by the combined efforts of all land managers and this should be seen a small triumph in preserving biodiversity in the high country," says Morris.

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