Last breeding season, we tried to help get the kākāpō in the mood for breeding with some saxy music. We reckon it was a good effort... but really, there’s a tiny piece of tech that’s been the real power behind the success of the programme.
Keeping tabs on 210 wild birds isn’t easy, so each kākāpō is fitted with a transmitter. It’s like a tiny backpack that sends heaps of important location, health, mating and nesting info to the kākāpō rangers.
Finding nests and helping females with incubation and chick rearing has taken breeding seasons from strength to strength. Transmitters can tell the rangers which birds have mated and their partner of choice – and if a female has begun to incubate eggs. Plus, if there’s no sign of movement for 24 hours, they’ll send an alert so rangers know in real-time that a bird may have lost its transmitter or has health concerns. That means the team can quickly check potential issues that could affect the population, giving the kākāpō the best chance of survival.
Other technology talks to the transmitters, too. The team can identify if any birds need some extra kai, remotely collect weights from scales placed in the bush, and provide regular check-ups for any birds that seem under the weather.