Brooke lives in the upper North Island where there is a very good population of our favourite bird. Up there though, the very nature of weka that endears itself so much to us, causes some irritating, pesky behaviours.
Brooke wrote… “Hiya I’m from Russell and, like you, love our environment and native wildlife but we have a weka issue where we live. They eat our growing tomatoes, pull out all our lettuces (and everything else in the garden) eat all our chicken food, kill our baby chicks, pull all our washing off the line and poo all over our deck. Anything I can do to deter them without harming them? Thanks.”
Brooke’s issues are common where weka and humans live in close proximity. Similar issues arise with pukeko’s. There are some things you can do, if not to eliminate the issues entirely, at least to reduce them a bit. Here is what our Chairwoman has to say.
“I am not sure that after living with weka for 12 years I can answer all your queries but I will try. What follows is my personal opinion.
There is a real problem with weka. They are by nature curious and omnivorous so that interactions between weka and humans can sometimes be a problem. It is the things they do because it is in their nature that makes them the bad boys in the bush in some people’s eyes. You are so lucky in in Russell that your weka population seems to do so well. Here in Kawakawa Bay we have had some downs in numbers and work hard to keep predator numbers down and get the people living in the area aware of weka and their endangered status.
In your garden, you may need to have some sort of barrier fence – chicken wire or that orange mesh around the plot or put a mesh tunnel over the small plants. We do have one weka here at our place that tries to predate a small cactus we have in a pot but we are not planning to eat that! One solution to the pulling up the plants is to give up gardening altogether but clearly you do not want to do that!
Neighbours here with chickens do not let the chickens free range until after they have been fed. Once the cage is open the weka are allowed the leftovers. At least that way you do not have left over food attracting rats!
As to your baby chickens – not sure what the answer is there. We have a good number of Californian quail in our valley and we have seen weka occasionally take a tiny baby. But if they did not take the babies probably local cats would do it. We never feed our weka close to the house so they rarely come on the deck. But a bucket of water over fresh poo seems to work for us. We always provide plenty of water, again as far from the house as possible, in containers big enough for one or more weka to bathe in it together. Would you like to continue this discussion with me through our email email@example.com ? Good weka watching! Rosemary”
“Here is a bird full of good qualities and whose vices lean to virtue’s side. Personal valour of a high order. An undying thirst for knowledge…..An affection for its young that would face the Prince of Darkness in their defence. And above all, an intelligence apart from what we call instinct, far higher than I ever saw in a bird.”
Charlie Douglas, Explorer, c.1899