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    Explore the life cycle of the kākā from egg to adulthood by selecting the labels for further information.

    Find out more about the life cycle of the kākā (Nestor meridionalis) from egg to adulthood by selecting the labels for further information.

    Acknowledgement: Background image, Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Transcript

    Newborn kākā

    Typically kākā have four eggs, although they can have up to seven. Incubation is usually about 20 days, and they can have two clutches in a season. These three tiny kākā chicks are only 1–3 days old, and there is one egg yet to hatch.

    Image: Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Kākā chicks

    Only the female kākā incubates the eggs and cares for the nestlings, but she is fed by the male throughout the breeding season. These four chicks are approximately 3 weeks old.

    Image: Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Kākā fledglings

    Both parents feed their kākā fledglings. When young kākā first fledge it takes a while before they are able to fully fly, the wing muscles need to fully develop before they can start to perfect their flying skills. Like many of New Zealand's native birds, on encountering a predator they are likely to freeze, but as mammalian predators can smell them this is not an effective defence. This can make them easy pickings for pest predators such as weasels and stoats.

    These four birds are about 45 days old and are in one of ZEALANDIA’s old wooden nesting boxes.

    Image: Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Juvenile kākā

    This kākā parent is feeding her begging juvenile by regurgitating food into its open beak. Juvenile kākā make a guttural repeated “aa-aa” call when soliciting food from their parents. They start to gain their independence from 2–5 months of age.

    Image: Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Kākā breeding

    Kākā primarily mate in spring and summer. Occasionally, second broods can be a bit later. Kākā can start breeding from 1 year old, but they usually start in their third year.

    Image: Kate Macbeth, CC BY S.A 4.0

    Male and female kākā

    Female (left) and male (right) kākā at a ZEALANDIA feeding station.

    Male and female kākā are difficult to differentiate. Males tend to be larger with a bigger mandible and rounder head. Females tend to be smaller and may have a prominent yellow eye ring during breeding. Unless their sex has been noted from their breeding behaviour, this large degree of overlap means that genetic testing is usually necessary to be sure.

    Males give a soft “tsee-tsee-tsee” call during courting and when showing females potential nest sites.

    Image: Judi Lapsley Miller, C-C 4.0

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 5 August 2019 Size: 330 KB Referencing Hub media