The rangers at Pukaha Mount Bruce, National Wildlife Centre were disappointed to discover that the takahē eggs laid last month will not be producing any takahē chicks. Resident pair, Natural and Fomi have been sitting on what was believed to be one egg. The egg was discovered in October by a Pukaha ranger. The discovery of the egg, marked the first time there had been a takahē egg laid at the centre for over 20 years.
The takahē pair Natural and Fomi have been living together at Pukaha Mount Bruce since May when the female, Fomi, which stands for Friends of Mana Island, arrived to keep Natural company after the recent passing of his companion, Bud. Bud passed away at Pukaha Mount Bruce in April. Bud was also a male and had died of natural age related causes.
Takahe are not solitary birds they prefer to live in pairs or family groups. Fomi was sent to live with Natural at Pukaha Mount Bruce for this reason
Both Natural and Fomi were considered to be past breeding age. Although from the moment the takahē were introduced there appeared to be courtship between them and breeding had been witnessed by the Pukaha rangers.
The egg incubated for around 30 days and the Pukaha team were hopeful that it was fertile.
As per the management guidelines set out by DOC’s Takahē Recovery Programme the Pukaha rangers remained very “hands-off” during the nesting time. It is protocol to not check the nest until several days after an expected hatch date to ensure the birds don’t abandon their nest at the most critical time. Pukaha ranger, Jess Flamy, checked the takahē nest this morning and confirmed there was not one egg laid but two. It was also confirmed that neither egg held a chick.
Fomi the female has bred before on Mana Island but Natural the dad has never raised an egg or chick before. The Pukaha rangers are pleased he has had a “practice run” and remain positive that the couple could still produce an egg that might result in a takahē chick.
Todd Jenkinson- Conservation manager at Pukaha Mount Bruce says “Pukaha Mount Bruce’s very first conservation breeding programme was with the takahē and dates back to the late 1960’s. These takahē eggs at Pukaha are still a symbol of the full circle of takahē breeding at Pukaha. We are hopeful that the pair will give it another go!”
As the national takahē population grows there is more certainty for the future of the takahē. The species has recently moved two steps away from extinction according to the New Zealand Threat Classification System.