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.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Killing kakas with kindness: New Zealand bird lovers threaten future of parrot

Nuts, seeds and bread left out for native birds are causing a bone disease which leaves chicks with fatal abnormalities 

Friday 20 January 2017 01.01 GMT Last modified on Friday 20 January 2017 06.14 GMT

The threatened native kaka population of New Zealand’s capital city is being killed by too much love. 

Kaka is a native New Zealand parrot and there are roughly 500 of them in Wellington, living in parks and reserves close to suburban homes, as well as in the Zealandia sanctuary.

Last year 80% of the precious kaka chicks monitored by scientists from Wellington city council died, and they have now discovered why.

Food such as nuts, seeds, crackers and pieces of bread left out by well-meaning Wellingtonians for the adult birds are causing the young chicks to develop metabolic bone disease, when their parents regurgitate the food into their mouths.

Depending on how much of the inappropriate food the birds have consumed the disease can cause them to grow up with distorted limbs, severe weakness and bone abnormalities, including beaks that do not close properly and feet pointing the wrong way.

Four Kaka chicks tested last week by the council were all found to have differing levels of metabolic bone disease, and the scientists will give the chicks another two weeks to increase their strength and leave the nest. They will then decide whether they can survive on their own, or will have to be euthanised, as two were last year.

In its worst form the disease renders the birds practically helpless and they starve to death, or shatter their bodies when they hit trees while learning to fly.

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