The new kiwi chick after its surprise hatching at Pukaha Mount Bruce overnight on Wednesday. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The first of five highly anticipated kiwi chicks made an unexpected early appearance yesterday morning after a speedy hatching caught staff at Pukaha Mount Bruce by surprise.
The youngster made a visible crack in its shell (known as an external pipping) earlier this week, and was still pipping at 9pm on Wednesday night.
When staff arrived at 8am yesterday, they were pleasantly surprised to find the kiwi chick had already hatched.
“It could take a week from the first internal pipping to hatching, so it was quite fast,” Pukaha marketing and communications manager Laura Hutchinson said.
The egg was one of three collected by Rimutaka Forest Park Trust rangers trapping pests in the area.
The eggs were entrusted to Pukaha to ensure the chicks had the best chance of being incubated and hatched before being successfully returned to the park where pest trapping has been undertaken for more than a decade so kiwi can survive outside of captivity.
Mrs Hutchinson said the partnership with Rimutaka Forest Park was invaluable as part of a national approach to increasing the kiwi population.
Pukaha captive breeding ranger Deja Rivera has been turning the eggs four times daily to replicate the natural incubation process which occurred when kiwi eggs were laid in the wild.
The kiwi chick will initially be kept at Pukaha where it will be fed a special diet.
When it weighed around 1.2kg it would be considered big enough to defend itself against stoats and would be returned to the Rimutaka Forest Park.
Ms Rivera said she expected the next egg to hatch early next week.
“The egg was 64 days old when it arrived, it is now 69 days old and they usually hatch around 72 days.”
Conservation manager Todd Jenkinson said Pukaha hoped to breed some kiwi of its own around June this year when the breeding season was due to resume.
Pukaha’s rare white kiwi, Mapuna, was captured on film in December performing a mating dance with a female but the pair were yet to produce an egg.
“Every now and again they are showing signs of breeding but they’re still quite young.”