2016 tipped as best-ever kakapo season

  • 18/03/2016
(Simon Wong / Newshub.)
(Simon Wong / Newshub.)

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry isn't counting her chicks before they hatch, but she's tipping 2016 as the best-ever kakapo breeding season.

The big, green flightless parrots are found only in New Zealand and they're a critically endangered species.

There are 125 adult birds alive, up from 49 when the recovery programme began in 1995.

Ms Barrie says so far this season 42 out of 54 female kakapo have nested, with 28 checks alive and well and another 19 fertile eggs still to hatch.

"Two of the females have even managed to produce two clutches of eggs after their first clutch was taken for artificial incubation to ensure their safety," she said on Friday.

Kakapo last bred in 2014, with six chicks successfully raised. The previous record breeding season was 2009 when 22 chicks were raised.

Ms Barrie said some birds inevitably don't survive and infertility rates are high "but all the indications are that this is going to break the 2009 record".

The nocturnal parrots are notoriously picky about breeding - they only reproduce every two to four years depending on the amount of fruit available from rimu and beech trees, their primary food source.

This year is the first time breeding has occurred on all three kakapo islands at the same time - Codfish and Anchor islands in Southland and Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.