New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2021) 45(1): 3431

Intake of sugar water by kākā in Orokonui Eco-sanctuary

Research Article
Anna Aichele 1
Philip Seddon 1
Yolanda van Heezik 1*
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Supplementary food is provided to native birds in eco-sanctuaries throughout New Zealand to discourage their movement outside the sanctuary, to enhance reproductive success, and to promote visitor encounters with wildlife. We recorded the frequency of visits by South Island kākā (Nestor meridionalis meridionalis) to four feeders in Orokonui eco-sanctuary to quantify sugar water consumption as a contribution to daily energy requirements. During 11 days of observations that took place between May and July 2018, thirty-one kākā visited the feeders (16 juveniles, 8 sub-adults, 8 adults; 55% females); we obtained complete records of all visits from 20 birds. The amount of time spent drinking at the feeders did not vary between sexes, age groups, or feeders. Mean daily kilojoules consumed (4.01 kJ ± 3.30 SD) was only 0.76% ± 0.62% of daily energy requirements. Provision of sugar water therefore encourages kākā to regularly visit the feeders, providing good viewing opportunities for the public, but does not appear to form a major component of the birds’ diet.