Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Kaka in the Garden

There are some pretty unusual and rare birds that can be seen in some gardens. Imagine finding a kiwi in your garden! One place that could happen is Oban, the small town on Stewart Island/Rakiura. About 400 people live in Oban, and late at night residents and visitors can hear kiwi screeching in the parks and in the gardens. See Stewart Island Brown Kiwi.

Another unusual and rare bird that can be seen in Oban's gardens during the daytime is the kaka.

I noticed that this smart and cheeky parrot has increased its presence in the town since I visited 5 years ago. No doubt this is due to the local residents getting together and taking action to control pests and restore native plantings through The Stewart Island Community and Environment Trust.

The kaka swoop in over the houses and settle on trees or land on balconies looking for a handout. Our accommodation had a large bowl of apples with a sign saying "For the kaka". It seems chopped apple laid out on the balcony railing is a big attraction.

Some Wellington homes are also lucky enough to see kaka, as they fly out from their home in Zealandia. Recently Zealandia put out a factsheet about feeding birds in your backyard. I was relieved to see that the apple we were feeding the kaka in Oban was on the 'healthier choices' list. But taken aback to see all the problems that feeding birds in your garden might cause, everything from feeding the wrong food to spreading bird diseases, and encouraging birds to be aggressive.

If you want to feed birds in your garden, whether its the rare kaka, tui or introduced birds then Feeding Birds at Home: a guide for nature lovers from Zealandia is an important pamphlet to read.