Introduction

A young Riponui kiwi found in December with a serious neck injury flies back to Whangarei tomorrow (19 January), with the help of airline wings.

A young Riponui kiwi found in December with a serious neck injury flies back to Whangarei tomorrow (19 January), with the help of airline wings.

The kiwi was discovered within the Whangarei Kiwi Sanctuary six weeks ago, with an injury, which caused its head to twist upside down. Thanks to emergency flights with Eagle Air and Air Nelson, followed by intensive care at the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre at Massey University, the brave little bird is better and ready to resume life in Northland.

It’s thought the injury was caused by an inner-ear problem, probably an infection.

The kiwi will be released onto predator-free Matakohe-Limestone Island and monitored every few days by resident rangers. The island is home to other kiwi and used as a crèche for the BNZ’s Operation Nest Egg (BNZONE) programme.

“Once adjusted to life in the wild the kiwi will be returned to its home at Riponui Scenic Reserve, where it came from. This type of release is known as a soft-release, where the birds have some time to get used to natural surroundings again,” says Department of Conservation (DOC) spokesperson Emma Craig.

The kiwi, whose sex is unclear, received exceptional care while at the wildlife health centre, with specialist medical treatment including a CT scan. Vets reported that despite hating receiving fluids, she loved ear drops and really enjoyed an ear rub!

“This young bird was so lucky to have been found in such a sad condition when it was. It’s very likely it would have died from the injury otherwise,” Ms Craig says. “Thanks to the help of the airlines and veterinary experts we’ve been able to restore another kiwi to health. It should soon be returned to its home population in the sanctuary.”

Kiwi can live for more than 50 years in the wild where dogs are always under control. The injured bird, thought to be about a year old, should have a long life ahead and be able to contribute to Whangarei kiwi populations if protected from threats such as dogs. 

Want to name this plucky kiwi? Send your suggestions to Northlandkiwi@doc.govt.nz to win a kiwi field trip!

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