"Acoustic anchoring" and the successful translocation of North Island kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) to a New Zealand mainland management site within continuous forest

Journal Article
In Jul and Aug 2005, 18 North Is kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) were released into a 450-ha area of New Zealand native forest subject to intensive control of introduced mammalian predators. The area, Ngapukeriki (near Omaio, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand), lies within a 13,000-ha matrix of native and exotic forest subject to lower and variable degrees of predator control. In contrast to most previous kokako translocations, this project employed 3 tactics to maximise the likelihood that kokako would remain in the target area: 1) many birds were released in a short period; 2) playback of kokako song was broadcast in the release area (potentially creating an “acoustic anchor”); and 3) a kokako pair was held at the release site in an aviary. Most birds approached to within 20 m of playback speakers, some approaching repeatedly. Several interactions between released birds were observed, including vocal interactions and instances of birds associating with one another temporarily. Visits to the aviary pair were rare. On 13 Apr 2006, all 8 trackable birds and 4 birds whose transmitters had failed remained in the core management area; locations of remaining birds (with lost or non-functional transmitters) were unknown. At least 5 territorial pairs had formed, and 1 chick was known to have fledged. To our knowledge, this was the 1st time song playback had been used as an attractant in a terrestrial bird reintroduction.
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