Hope for the fledglings

The Grey-faced Petrel or Oi, Pterodroma gouldi, is one of the few species of petrel still breeding on the mainland islands of New Zealand today. When humans first arrived, bringing with them a collection of new and often invasive predators, almost all other petrel species became restricted to the offshore islands. Yet despite returning to Karioi each year to breed, no Oi chicks are known to have survived into adulthood here for many years.

Imagine the growing delight then when the Karioi biodiversity team discovered first five healthy Oi chicks, then a sixth, and then a possible seventh in one of the very deep burrows. Although the team is not able to reach it, its parents continue to return with food, which is a very good sign that there is a healthy chick growing inside.

Project Manager and A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand Co-Director, Kristel van Houte, said, ‘These are the first chicks that we know to have survived this long into the breeding season for many years. It was an exciting and very emotional moment to finally see chicks happily tucked away in their burrows after many years of hard work.’ Read more

Special thanks to the generosity of the Waikato Regional Council, Department of Conservation, WWF New Zealand, as well as the Whāingaroa community, Tainui Hapu and many dedicated volunteers!

Beyond Raglan, the A Rocha network extends across Aoteoroa NZ to Auckland, Manawatu, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Volunteer groups are engaged in practical action such as restoring wetland, native bush and stream habitats, and native tree nursery and planting projects. Connect and get involved!

Before they fledge in around December, most Oi chicks will pop out of their burrows to stretch their wings. (Kristel van Houte)

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