New Zealand Kea Nesting Success

Things are looking up for Endangered Kea populations in New Zealand where nesting success has suffered due to invasive predators, but conservation efforts are helping.

The Kea is a magnificently beautiful and vibrantly colored bird native to New Zealand. It is incredibly vulnerable to predation by several species including invasive stoats, mice, and rats. As a result, Kea populations have experienced a decline in nesting success and are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that Keas not only nest on the ground but remain there for four months waiting for their chicks to fledge. All of this and more has impacted Kea populations in recent years.


Various approaches to conservation have shown improvements in the nesting success of the Kea. Most recently, research into the nesting success of the Kea was carried out over multiple breeding seasons. Researchers  Joshua Kemp, Corey Mason, Graeme Elliott, and Christine Hunt outlined their findings in a paper published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology.

The research found that the main testing site, Okarito, was undergoing conservation efforts to remove invasive stoats and was considered to be successful. Invasive stoat populations remained at nearly 0 in 2011 and 2012. This has all been a part of Predator Free 2050, an initiative that includes The Department of Conservation and Predator Free New Zealand, which aims to remove invasive predatory species from New Zealand by the year 2050. 

So how did this impact nesting and breeding of Kea populations? Well, Kea populations began to rebound, and it was demonstrated that their nesting success improved as well. There is a renewed sense of hope that Kea populations will continue to thrive and nest successfully going forward.   

Source: Predator Free NZ
Featured Photo: A perched Kea duo. Credit: Daniel Pietzsch

About Stephanie Dittrich

Stephanie Dittrich is a current senior in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz and a transfer student from De Anza College. She is also currently pursuing a Certificate of Achievement in Geospatial Technologies and a second Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Foothill College. She has worked in multiple marketing and design focused roles at environmental nonprofits as well as the Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz. She just finished spending 3 months in Costa Rica conducting field work where she did an independent research project and wrote a scientific paper about flight response time in the Morpho peleides butterfly. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys working on creative photography and design projects, often centered around wildlife photography, as well as more experimental and contemporary subject matter.

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