Our veterinary team are currently caring for a wild New Zealand dotterel chick. Found at an Auckland City rail line by a KiwiRail staff member, this chick would’ve died without the protection and warmth its parents would usually provide.
It was brought into our care a week ago, by Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers after spending a night at a local vet clinic. We will continue to rear this endangered bird until it is at an age where DOC rangers can safely release it back to the wild with our support, and the support of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the mana whenua of central Tāmaki Makaurau.
New Zealand dotterel / tūturiwhatu pukunui are endemic to Aotearoa. They were once widespread and common but now just 2,500 birds remain, making dotterels more at risk than some species of kiwi.
Our vet team have set up a special area for the chick to live in with all the essentials – a feather duster for it to hide under (just like it would a parent bird), a heat lamp, food and water. This species is precocious, meaning it will feed by itself from a young age, which is important when it comes to its eventual release to a wild site. Already, he has started picking through the food bowls and feeding from the water from a selection of insects – water boatmen, galleria, and soldier fly larvae – meaning he is also able to keep his fluids up without further assistance . To keep disturbance to a minimum, our team are able to keep an eye on the chick using a cleverly placed nest camera.
It’s a privilege for our team to be able to care for such precious taonga. So far our vets report it is eating well and has nearly doubled its weight, which is a great sign. We’ll keep you updated on the chicks' progress!