Hamilton Zoo celebrates rare NZ falcon


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4 February 2008

Hamilton Zoo has today released a NZ falcon chick at Kakepuku Mountain, celebrating the city's first successful raising of this rare bird of prey.

Once widespread throughout New Zealand, there are now only isolated populations of 3000 to 4500 pairs nationwide, reflected by this bird's classification as Vulnerable to Endangered. Hamilton Zoo is working with Kakepuku Mountain Conservation Society, DOC and other breeding centres in New Zealand to preserve this impressive species.

Hamilton Zoo has one breeding pair of NZ falcon and this signifies the zoo's second attempt to raise chicks. In 2006, the breeding pair produced a clutch of eggs that did not result in chicks. On 28 December 2007, the pair produced three eggs which resulted in the fledgling chick.

Earlier today [4 February 2008], the NZ falcon chick was taken to Kakepuku Mountain near Te Awamutu whereupon it will be prepared for life in the wild through a carefully staged progression. In a process called 'hack release', the chick will be placed in an enclosure for a period of time and provided with food. After approximately three weeks, the hack box will be opened and the chick released with access to food as it learns to hunt for itself. The final stage of the NZ falcon chick's release is full independence whereupon it hunts for its own food in the wild.

Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley says the successful raising and pending release of the NZ falcon chick is a significant achievement for both the species and for Hamilton Zoo.

"The NZ falcon is a most impressive bird of prey and it's a privilege for Hamilton Zoo to play a part in the protection and preservation of the species.

"We've been hopeful that our NZ falcon pair would produce chicks and the raising of the chick is a real landmark. The release programme at Kakepuku Mountain is a five year project that started in 2005 with seven birds released so far from across the Central North Island.

"Though the birds themselves are small, with a female weighing about 500g and males about 300g, the NZ falcon can take prey much larger than themselves and have been known to catch wood pigeons which can weigh up to 800g."

NAME: Stephen Standley
DESIGNATION: Hamilton Zoo Director
TEL (DIRECT): 07 838 6954
MOBILE: 021 912 113
FAX (DIRECT): 07 838 6960
NAME: Naomi Cox
DESIGNATION: Communication Executive
TEL (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6726
MOBILE: 027 413 3448
FAX (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6761
Page reviewed: 04 Feb 2008 12:00am