Fertile egg signals start of kakapo breeding season

At least one fertile kakapo egg has been laid on Codfish Island, signalling the start of the kakapo breeding season.

Two more eggs have also been laid by the kakapo named Lisa, but their fertility has not yet been confirmed.

Lisa and a kakapo named Basil mated on Christmas night and their first chick was due in early February.

With conditions similar to 2002 when a record 24 chicks hatched, the Department of Conservation was hoping the small kakapo population would top 100.

Kakapo Recovery team leader Deidre Vercoe said with more females reaching breeding age and the level of rimu fruiting on the island, the breeding season could produce as many as 40 chicks.

"Two of the 13 females that hatched in 2002 bred last year at just 6 years old, which was really exciting because it was previously thought that their breeding age was 9 years old.

"This year, we are hoping that all of these now 7-year-old females will nest."

While infertility was one of the biggest reproductive issues facing the breeding programme, the kakapo team was hopeful for a breeding season like 2008 when there was 100% fertility.

"While we are planning for the best, we are also mindful that this is nature, and factors beyond our control could limit results," Ms Vercoe said.

Six of the seven chicks hatched in 2008 survived.

Lisa usually kicked off the breeding season and was the first to nest and lay eggs in 2008, 2005 and 2002.

The kakapo population sits at 90 and they are managed on two islands, Codfish Island, a 1400ha island located about 3km off the coast of Stewart Island, and Anchor Island in Dusky Sound, Fiordland.

Doc was also hoping this breeding season, the offspring from the only surviving Fiordland kakapo, Richard Henry, will breed, bringing some genetic diversity.



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