The diet of the North Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) on Kapiti Island
- School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
- Present address: Department of Conservation, Private Bag 5, Nelson, New Zealand
Food of the North Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) on Kapiti Island was identified while quantifying the foraging activity of nine radio-tagged birds from March 1991 to January 1992. Additional food types were identified by opportunistic observation of feeding birds and qualitative examination of nestling faeces. A diverse range of food was taken, including wood-boring invertebrates, scale insects, seeds, nectar or pollen, fruits, and sap. Radio-tagged birds foraged predominantly for invertebrates over most of the year, but hinau (Elaeocarpus dentatus) seed, five-finger (Pseudopanax arboreus) nectar or pollen and tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) seed were seasonally important food types. Most of the plant food taken by kaka on Kapiti is known to be eaten, or otherwise reduced in abundance, by Australian brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), a widespread potential competitor that has been eradicated from Kapiti. Annual variation in the abundance of important plant food types may explain variation in the breeding intensity of kaka on Kapiti Island.