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.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Scientists are getting creative to save this muppet-faced, flightless parrot

The kakapo is down to its last 147 individuals. Now, scientists are using fitness trackers and semen-carrying drones to help the bird reproduce.
INSIDE A HUT on remote Whenua Hou/Codfish Island off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island, there’s a chart on the refrigerator depicting the future of a species.
That species is the kakapo, an unusual, flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. The chart lists every breeding female kakapo on the planet—50 of them, with names like Pearl, Marama, and Hoki—and the status of their eggs: smiley faces for fertile eggs, straight lines for infertile ones, wings and legs for hatched chicks, and Xs for those that have died.
In the hopes of more smiley faces getting wings and fewer getting Xs, a team of scientists, rangers, and volunteers are working around the clock during the current breeding season, using 3D-printed smart eggs, activity trackers, and a sperm-toting drone nicknamed the "cloaca courier" to turn a record breeding year into a repopulation milestone and help this beloved bird step back from the brink.

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