Do you have Weka visiting and would like to know how to feed them?
There are a few simple things you can do to support our nationally threatened birds.
Weka are omnivorous, and are both scavengers and predators. They consume a wide variety of fruit and invertebrates, also eggs, lizards, small mammals and birds, and carrion.
If you do not want the Weka in your house, all supplementary feeding should be done as far from your door as practical.
2. If you have a compost bin, open it up. The Weka will forage for food scraps and also the worms and other invertibrates that live there.
3. Any food you give the Weka should be in small pieces, nothing so big that it gets carried away to go mouldy. Mould spores can give huge problems to the birds.
DO NOT FEED MOULDY BREAD TO ANY BIRDS!!!!
4. Simple foods include dry rolled oats, whole kernal corn, small pieces of WET wholegrain bread, apple cores, grated cheese, a chicken carcass or even corn cobs after you have eaten the corn. Weka are omniverous so they like most things but not carrots.
Wanted New Zealand Weka stories.
We have enjoyed photographs and stories from various people around the country and we would like to share them on this website with all who care to read them. The various subspecies do have one thing in common and that is charisma and cheek. They are great entertainers.
These are photos of Western Weka from an area in the South Island, above Nelson
We have greetings from our Nelson Weka Cousins
We have some news of Weka living in the Nelson area of the south island and have some wonderful photographs sent to us by Jon Anda who obviously enjoys the company of these great trusting birds.
Weka in the Nelson area are of the subspecies Gallirallus australis australis and are called Western Weka whilst ours near Kawakawa bay are North island Weka of the subspecies Gallirallus australis greyi similar subspecies of Weka.
The Western Weka are distinguished by dark red-brown streaking on the breast.
Photos sent to us by Jon show the extent of the trust these Weka have given to him. Like us, Jon is giving time to predator control and is in the process of setting up stoat traps.
The large grubs in one photo are from wood Jon splits open. The Weka love the help!
Basil and Ann Graeme have always loved weka with their feisty personalities and fascinating behaviour. In 1989 they had a dream, to reintroduce North Island weka to areas of the mainland where they had been numerous in earlier years but had now disappeared. It had been thought that the severe decline in their numbers, a 90% loss in the Gisborne area over the 1980s alone, had been due to drought, habitat loss and disease.
They knew that relocating adult birds did not work because weka have a strong homing instinct and as soon as they are released they head for home. One adult released in the Waitakeres in 1980, for instance, was found 3 weeks later in Taneatua in the eastern Bay of Plenty, heading for its home in Gisborne.
It was thought that relocating juveniles might be better and so the Graemes, with the support of the Department of Conservation and Forest and Bird, set up a captive breeding programme with about 15 breeders. Some pairs happily started producing chicks but in other cases the pair of weka did not like each other and refused to perform.
The Karagahake Gorge was chosen as a suitable mainland release site as there was plenty of bush in the area, it was close to the Kaimai Ranges, and had never had a drought. A pre-release aviary was built and the young birds transferred to it. After a few weeks, trapdoors were opened allowing the weka to move out into the bush and to return when they wanted to. For a time this seemed to be a success and weka were heard calling in the surrounding area; but there was a neighbour with a dog. If a weka went onto this property the dog killed it. The solution? The Graeme’s bought the dog and advertised it in Tauranga. “Free to a good home, friendly family dog, kills weka and chickens”. Problem solved they thought.
There were more Karangahake releases but they found these weka were being killed by ferrets. There had been a ferret fur farm nearby and when it failed the owner just released the animals to the wild!
So a decision was made to release the young weka onto islands where the predator problem would be very much less. In 1996 birds were successfully released onto both Whanganui Island in the Coromandel Harbour and Pakatoa. Pakatoa is just a short boat ride from Kawakawa Bay and our birds have a strong DNA link to these weka. Perhaps they were brought here when the weka on the island became too numerous. We will never know for sure!
The first confirmed weka report here in the Bay was in November 2004. Knowing that weka are so rare on the North Island mainland, our birds here in the Bay are national treasures. We must do everything we can to protect and enjoy them.
You can read more about the problems with the Karangahake release by clicking on the link in the links column to the right of this page– Captive Weka Breeding. These articles were written by Elaine Staples for the local newspapers. Elaine and her husband were managing the release programme. The pre release aviary was on their property. The stories of the different weka that came under their care make entertaining reading.
Any reports of sightings of the North island Weka would be wonderful
If you can also manage a photo, that would be great.
We are always surprised at the extent and location of some of our sightings
Please help us to help them survive.
We have a recent sighting of a Weka on the Kawakawa Orere road just west of the Orere stream bridge by a local resident who looked out of her bedroom window to see a single Weka wandering in her garden. They have been hearing them for some time.
We have a sighting of more Weka by a visitor to Hunua Village, heading toward Settlement Road [Papakura] when he had to stop his car for …. 2 weka, crossing the road. Asked if he was sure he knew what Weka
looked like, he laughed and assured he did
This is one of two signs placed in Orere Point. This one is opposite the dairy and the other is in Bays road.
We hope the signs will contribute to an awareness of the vulnerability of ground dwelling birds to the many hazards they face in village like Orere where they have a close interface with residents , holidaymakers and their pets.
Newly hatched chicks
The father with the leg bands is Barry; the unbanded mother is just called Mum.
We have more photos of Barry’s family in our photos section
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Well that’s a strange Big bird
Driving up the gorge one evening recently, we were surprised to see a Weka . We stopped, and listened for calls and sure enough we heard some. I believe I heard two birds and the boss heard three. We heard the alarm call which is quite a loud shriek in addition to a very close call and another sighting of one of the birds. great stuff.
We were happily listening to the occasional call when we heard one a little further up the hill, loud and clear but with a very slightly higher note finish. It started like a male and ended up with a higher female note. Mmmm , we strolled up the road to investigate and saw the bird or rather the guy who was making the call which was very well done. He was an ex bushman who had stopped for his little girl. With all the bends on the gorge road she had felt sick.
Waves and chuckles for us all, as we departed the scene!
SIGHTINGS April 16th 2013
Good news.This group of Weka is regularly seen to the east of Kawakawa bay by a local family. Great to know they are out this way.
We have seen a single Weka in the Kawakawa Orere road area up in the gorge. Two committee members saw it,
Our two cars travelling in opposite directions effectively blocked the gorge road for a closer look.
it stayed close to the road edge rummaging about in the leaf litter. There had been reports of sightings up here but
it is nice to confirm.
PREDATORS 090313 update
After many kilometers of trapline walking we have some figures of pests removed from Weka society.
Summary of predator captures from 2005 to 2nd March 2013
Weka Count Night March and April 2013
Read all about it in the events section. This is an interesting exercise listening for weka calls usually in quiet bush settings using maps, direction of calls and time heard. Beginners will be paired with experienced counters. Saturday evenings are our usual count nights around dusk, which seems to be a favorite call time for these birds
great evening out.
ANOTHER TRAP LINE INSTALLED
March and April 2012 have been busy months for the trap line volunteers. A new line of 34 DOC traps has been set out on a property along the Orere Road. This line takes us to the highest point north of the Orere road and it encloses several stands of mature original native bush and some pine plantations as well. There is a free flowing stream at the foot of the valley, a permanent water supply for the weka. On our count in this area on 17th March 2012 we heard 9 weka calling singly or in pairs, so it is great to have some protection underway for them. Thanks to the Lion Foundation for their funds to allow us to purchase 20 of these traps and to the Auckland Council for another 9. Special thanks to farmer George – without his quad bike and some careful driving the job would have been very much more difficult. Photos of the exercise are in the gallery.