Dates arranged for two rare parakeets

A male Antipodes Island parakeet, which welcomed a new female partner into his enclosure last week. Photo Christina McDonald.
A male Antipodes Island parakeet, which welcomed a new female partner into his enclosure last week. Photo Christina McDonald.
The rare Antipodes Island parakeet population was given a gentle nudge last week when two Queenstown birds were introduced to new partners.

The introduction is part of ensuring there is an insurance population of the birds, with only about 2000 left world-wide. In the wild, the birds are found only on Antipodes Island.

Two new Antipodes Island parakeets flew into Queenstown on Friday on man-made wings and spent the weekend getting to know their new partners at the Kiwi Birdlife Park.

The park already has two birds and a captive co-ordinator, whose job is to study the genetics of rare animals, matched a brother and sister pair from a breeder in Auckland with the park's Antipodes Island parakeet.

The park's senior wildlife keeper, Paul Kavanagh, said while the wild birds on the island were doing well, it was important to have an insurance population in case of a disaster such as a fire.

A fundraising campaign to rid Antipodes Island of mice was organised by New Zealand philanthropist Gareth Morgan.

With two new breeding pairs now living at the Queenstown park, fingers are crossed for a successful breeding season, most likely to be at the end of next year.

The recent spring-like weather has fooled both plants and birds into thinking it was blooming and breeding time, meaning some eggs have already been laid, and there was a possibility more would arrive when the real spring arrived.

''We've already got brown teal eggs,'' Mr Kavanagh said.

The eggs would be used in the park's breed for release programme.