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CHAPTER 4: PRE-RELEASE PENS! MARCH 2014

Waiata has been in the pre-release pens for two and a half months now and is doing really well. He has been able to experience what life is like with fluctuating temperatures, weather, plants and soil with roots and more worms and insects to search for!

Waiata is still sharing a pen with his pen-mate, Kowhai, who at 1,300g is currently about 400g heavier than Waiata's 940 grams! But Waiata isn't letting Kowhai eat all of the pies!!! His weight has been increasing steadily after he has become accustomed to outdoor living at the pens. Waiata and Kowhai's food consumption over the last month has been on average about 285 grams per night. We put out two food dishes of 150 grams each. Both birds are normally both very good at clearing their plates and not throwing it around like they used to do back in January! When a kiwi eats from a plate they pick up their food with the tip of the bill and throw it backwards into their gape (or 'mouth'). If the piece is too bulky they shake it vigorously. At the region of their bill near the gape there are sharper edges which they use to help cut overly large food into smaller pieces and shaking it around helps to slice. This means that after Waiata is finished feeding, leftover food can cover the entire ground and insides of his food house. Tidying up after a kiwi in the pre-release pens can be a very messy job!

While Waiata and Kowhai are living in their shared pen we will monitor their day-to-day (or night-to-night) activities by examining the pen while they are asleep in their burrow. We can tell how active they are by the profusion of probing that has occurred overnight and also by how regular they have been! The more sign of poo the better! As it means that they are eating well and their insides are working as they should be! Sometimes birds can take in too many small stones causing blockages or full bellies that can't process any food.

It won't be too long till Waiata is all ready to head off to Motuara Island which is used as a crèche island, being predator free. Waiata will stay there until he reaches a weight of 1,200 grams which is the recognized 'stoat-proof' weight for kiwi chicks being returned to the wild. Once over 1,200 grams he will be able to fend off a stoat with his powerful kick and long claws. He will also lose the naivety of the young and be able to better look after himself in the Okarito Rowi Sanctuary.
And you too can be part of this cause by either sponsoring an egg or donating from this link: https://www.kiwisforkiwi.org/donate/