Tiaho's story

Patricia Latas
May 15, 2014 share

Tiaho is another alumnus from the kakapo year 2009. Tiaho hatched 2009, Mother: Rakiura, Father: Whiskas.


He was a very sickly chick, and nearly died. He was treated for very serious respiratory infection, and returned to Whenua Hou upon recovery. Being a special case, and under care and observation, he spent most of his time near the ranger hut. He was very shy and rarely seen, but was known to feed from hoppers nearby.


I had the great privilege in 2011 to lay in the cold pelting rain and sleet for several hours, watching the feed hopper for signs of ANY kakapo. And slowly, carefully, Tiaho emerged. He fed quietly and efficiently on the pellets, not wasting a crumb. He used his side-burn whiskers to whisk-broom the crumbs into a tidy line, and licked them up. It was a rare opportunity, and one that stuck in my memory.


Tiaho was the one kakapo that I sighted in 2011 as a "wild" observation, and he was the only kakapo that I saw for a second time in 2014; again, in a non-captive, non-restrained circumstance. Tiaho now has a territory that surrounds the rangers' headquarters. During the male booming season this year, he spent many hours observing the older males in their booming bowls; watching courtship and mating behaviors. These areas were located quite far from his home turf, so it was a real effort for him to find and observe the mature males.


During my stay on Whnua Hou in 2014, Tiaho was still very shy but could be heard booming near the hut. Being about 4 months out of season, and not exactly expert on the technique, it was quite unlikely that any females would be interested. But several very young females were hanging around the area, as well. So, who knows?


It was a rare treat to fall asleep, serenaded by the window-shaking low frequency kakapo booms.



One cold night, I was awakened to the call of nature. The loo was a short walk up hill, and grabbing a flashlight I headed out on the excursion. I heard a little commotion, and the beam of light showed an astonished Tiaho on his booming bowl, adjacent to the loo path. He was blown up to the size of a beach ball, and in mid-boom, bounced away through the brush. It was actually quite funny to see this, and no one I spoke to later had seen an inflated male attempt to walk (forget about hopping or running through the undergrowth). We both collected ourselves, and by the time I completed my original errand (almost completed on the path as I was as startled as Tiaho) and went back to collect my phone to attempt a recording/photo, he was happily booming away at his bowl.


As the days progressed, his booming improved: more rhythmical, deeper, more regulated. His bowl grew and was quite nice by the time I left. Perhaps he will be a breeding prodigy, as his half-sister Huhana is already a sucessful mother.



Tiaho in 2011





from journal entry



The booming bowl is at the base of the tree, behind the green leaves. The hollow in the butress area made a wonderful resonace chamber.



here it is in early construction phase.




Historical original notes from Don Merton, 1975, a kakapo on the mainland in Firdland.



See video


Whenua Hou, Southland, NZ
New Zealand
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