In winter, 2002 a kereru chick which had fallen from a nest in a storm was handed to May and Russell from the Department of Conservation. This bird was successfully hand-raised but due to it being completely raised by humans, it was at first feared it would not be able to cope with release to the wild so it was kept and fed in the aviary for some time.
In 2004 DoC commenced a three-year project to evaluate the kereru and tui in an urban setting and May and Russell became an integral part of the project, as, while continuing to care for injured birds, they also took several kereru caught in mist-nets by DoC staff which ‘sulked’ for a few days, sometimes weeks when caught to have transmitters attached for the research. These birds were later released either with or without transmitters.
At the end of March 2005 it was decided to release the hand-raised chick, named ‘Bubs’ with one of these transmitters on and she became a valued part of the research, finding a mate, building four nests and raising two chicks on nearby properties in the first year ‘out’.
Two of her nests were videoed and this provided valuable knowledge of kereru nest-building and chick rearing, as the transmitter stayed on her tail feathers for over a year before the feathers moulted and the transmitter was consequently dropped.
Bubs and her mate actually built four nests, successfully raising a chick in the first; having a second chick taken by a hawk [captured on camera], a third egg fell through the flimsy nest, and lucky fourth was videoed by DoC from start of nest building until the chick fledged.
In 2012 Bubs is still nesting in her home area of Bryson Road, comes for feeds regularly while rearing chicks and disappears for several days at a time at the end of the season, as well as other shorter periods.
Bubs is a great hit with visitors to the property, especially children as she will sit quietly on someone’s arm or nearby secure branch and eat from a dish of food.
She has occasionally brought a young bird to the house and her mate also sometimes comes and watches her feed.
With a rate of even two per season, although she may have reared more – we believe Bubs has contributed 14 kereru to the Otatara area in the seven years since she was released e We are pretty sure she has reared more than two several years because of the frequency of her coming to feed.