Both Taiko Chicks Born and Raised at Sweetwater Fledge Successfully

Between 2007 and 2014, a total of 66 chicks have been transferred from the Tuku Nature Reserve to Sweetwater in order to provide the birds with a secure predator free breeding area. They were housed in artificially constructed burrows, and fed until fledging. Seabird chicks are highly site faithful and will return to breed at the colony from which they fledged. Taiko have a long pre-breeding period of about four to nine years, and hence waiting for the first birds to breed was a lengthy process.

However, chicks from the first (2007) and second (2008) transferred cohort began returning to Sweetwater in 2010 and 2011. Last season, a total of 12 return chicks were found, of which two pairs have spent considerable time together in their selected burrows. Photo images show that there was also one chick present from the 2009 cohort - the first one to return from that year of transfers.

Natural recruitment of taiko is usually only 20-30%. However, a total return of 12-15 transferred taiko chicks represents a 60% survival rate of the first two cohorts, a significant increase on the natural rate. This is a major accomplishment in the conservation of taiko.

Two pairs began breeding at Sweetwater for the first time, marking 2013 as a year that will go down in history. And to make this news even more exciting, both pairs raised and fledged one chick! This is huge news for taiko conservation, and all the hard work and dedication from countless volunteers, the Taiko Trust, and the Chatham Islanders has paid off.

For more information on the Trust's Taiko Project, please visit the Trust Projects page.