DISTRIBUTION: Before settlers arrived there were about 12 million Great Spotted Kiwi (GSK) on the South Island. They are now only found in pockets in the Northwest Nelson, Paparoa Ranges, Arthurs Pass and Hurunui. Birds have also been transferred to Lake Rotoiti mainland island and the Nina Valley.
HABITAT: GSK use a wide variety of habitats such as forests, scrub and grasslands, but are mainly found in the sub-alpine zone of 700-1100 metres.
FOOD: Similar to other kiwi - invertebrates, earthworms, centipedes, spiders, beetles, weta as well as some fruit.
CALL: Male gives a high-pitched ascending whistle while female gives a slower and lower pitched ascending trill.
GENERAL: They are fiercely territorial. The tallest of all kiwi species, about 45cm tall. GSK can be identified by their dark grey-brown feathers which are banded with buff brown-black which gives the bird its spotted appearance. As with many other kiwi species, GSK have only one mate at a time and generally mate for life. They typically have one egg in a clutch, but occasionally have two clutches in a season. Incubation is shared more or less 50/50 between the parents, although males do a little more as they incubate during the day and share the night roster with the female. Young birds stay in their parents' territory for a year or more, either with or near the adults. The young birds have been known to help incubate subsequent eggs.
With a declining population of approximately 2% p.a., the New Zealand Conservation Trust has taken steps to focus on this South Island species.
Eggs or chicks are retrieved from the wild. The burrows are often deep and difficult to access. The eggs/chicks are brought to the Trust's facility in Christchurch. The eggs are incubated and the young chicks cared for under a carefully managed and monitored programme. Once the chicks are feeding well on their own and have reached a weight of 450 grams they are released into predator-free creche sites. The young chicks stay there until they are able to protect themselves from most predators (1.2 kg) and are then released back into the wild.
In 2007/08 the Trust received the first three GSK eggs. By 2014 ninty one eggs had been managed at the Trust's Christchurch facility.
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