On New Year’s Day 2014 we received an SOS from the DoC office at Stewart Island and later that day we collected a young Stewart Island Kaka from the Invercargill Airport. The bird was checked that evening by our trusty vet, Dr Lisa Stuart who was pretty sure the bird had a broken left femur. We decided to keep her warm with plenty of fluids until 3 January when Lisa could arrange to operate at the Kennington Vetco clinic.
She did some research and decided to pin the leg, which was carried out as planned, after xrays, with Russell assisting as well as vet nurse Holly. The operation went well and the bird came home to Bush Haven with a plastic collar around her neck to stop her interfering with the external fixator attached to the pin through the bone. The bird was then on cage rest so that she couldn’t move around too much, while getting used to using the leg. As well as fruit, seed etc she was fed Kaytees formula with fruit juice from a syringe which she took really well into her beak. One of her favourite foods was sow thistle.
After four weeks the bird was xrayed again and although not 100% straight, it was found the bone was healing well. At around this time we sent away feathers for dna and proof that we had a female bird was welcome, so naturally she had to be called Lisa, after her special doctor!
On 14 February a further xray was taken and the pin was removed as well as the collar and our special bird continued her rehabilitation in her cage. Another few weeks saw her into a suspended aviary where she could climb around and further strengthen the leg, start to fly without landing on hard ground.
On 7 April we caught her and brought her inside for the night, then next day took her past Dunedin to the Orokonui Sanctuary where she went into an aviary for more flying training. She will be released into the Sanctuary when the staff at Orokonui think she is ready and we hope Lisa has a long and happy life up there.
Being a Stewart Island Kaka she will bring different genetics to the population and will hopefully breed when she matures. Because she was a young bird we decided on this result rather than going back to Stewart Island, also because there would be more supervision in the Sanctuary.