Image: Sabine Bernert | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Kākāpō superstar, Sirocco, will celebrate his 20th birthday ‘off the grid’ on his island retreat this week.

Date:  18 March 2017

Sirocco has evaded a search on the island by DOC staff this summer after his transmitter failed and will likely be choosing to spend a quiet birthday partying by himself, as is the way of ‘young adult’ kākāpō. 

DOC Kākāpō /Takahē Manager Deidre Vercoe says while DOC is obviously keen to catch up with its star parrot, there are no concerns for his safety on the predator-free island where he’s been for the last 18 months. 

“He’s a healthy, relatively young kākāpō living in a habitat with plenty of food and no predators so there’s every reason to think he’s doing fine.” 

It’s extremely difficult to find Sirocco on a large, densely-forested island without his transmitter working, says Deidre Vercoe. 

“Although he likes people, he’s also a wild kākāpō and likes to keep to himself at non-breeding times when his hormone levels are down.” 

“We’re obviously keen to locate Sirocco again but will wait until next summer to search when, if there’s another breeding season, we’ll be much more likely to find him.” 

Hopefully the public will still get a chance to get up close to a kākāpō later this year, says Deidre Vercoe. 

“We’re working towards providing a public kākāpō viewing opportunity this winter and are assessing a young male bird, Ruapuke, that has done some display work previously.” 

Up to 5% of kākāpō transmitters fail each year and these birds often take some time to find. DOC is using the best conservation technology available but as the kākāpō population grows this level of failure becomes more difficult to manage. DOC is reviewing options for reliably tracking growing numbers of kākāpō. 

Sirocco has been living with other male kākāpō on an island in Fiordland where he’s been since his last public tour at Zealandia in Wellington in the winter of 2015. 

Background information 

Sirocco is our most charismatic kākāpō – a national treasure, media superstar and also New Zealand's official Spokesbird for conservation. 

Sirocco was hand-reared away from other kākāpō after catching a respiratory illness at three weeks old. As a result he became imprinted on humans and identifies more with people than other kākāpō. 

In Sirocco’s life time the kākāpō population has increased threefold. Since the Kākāpō Recovery Programme began in 1995, the population has grown from just 51 to 154 adult birds.  

Ruapuke is a three-year-old bird who hatched in 2014 from a cracked egg repaired with PVA glue and tape. He was hand reared and is friendly towards people and has previously been used as an ambassador bird.  

Ruapuke had two successful single day public outings in Southland in 2015 including a Waitangi Day event at Bluff’s Te Rau Aroha Marae and a fundraising display at the Birds of a Feather Charity Ball at Walter Peak Lodge in Queenstown.


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