Dec 212018

Russell and May at Bush Haven have had a pretty difficult year. Busy at the start with kaka chicks and other birds, the rehab birds keeping us pretty busy too. Then in April Russell had a broken femur which was treated with a large nail inserted and he began the rehab process himself, with May taking on more of the outside work. Over time Russell became sure the bone ends were not joined as he could feel them moving as he walked..still with one crutch most of the time.

In November he finally had a second operation with a larger nail being inserted and he is now getting used to walking around a bit more, still on one or two crutches, but can’t feel the bones moving so fingers crossed.  With May needing knee surgery some time and stairs everywhere we have come to a decision to leave Bush Haven and at present the future is a bit insecure for us, and for the birds.

If anyone out there sees this post and is keen to move south and purchase a really great property to look after injured native birds as a lifestyle change, please phone us at 03.2130530 in the first instance. There is an option of keeping our native and exotic parrot collection, or just working with the rehab side of things.

Apr 142016

On Tuesday, 5 April the two female kaka, Izzie and Mabel flew to Nelson courtesy of Air New Zealand with one female from Te Anau, Mighty Whitey. On arrival at Nelson they were transferred by helicopter to an aviary near where they will eventually be released into the Abel Tasman Park to live free.

On Wednesday, 6 April the two male kaka, Daithi and Mack were taken by car to Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and released into the holding aviary there.  Later in the week they were joined by four more males, from Dunedin Botanical Gardens and Te Anau, and when ready the staff will release all six young males together.

We are privileged to be able to assist the wild population of South Island Kaka and hope all our birds live safely to old age.

Apr 142016

In 2015, local builder Greg Barlow contributed his labour to re-roofing and rebuilding walls and doors in one row of aviaries at Bush Haven.  Greg enjoyed working here with the sound of the birds around and we certainly appreciate what you did for Bush Haven, Greg. Thankyou.

Oct 262015

Our South Island Kaka pair successfully hatched their four eggs between 24 and 26 September, and so far they are all doing well. We try and give the parents a good selection of food each day, both in the morning and late afternoon, so they have always got plenty of choices available.

The male bird is not allowed in the nest, but regularly feeds the hen, which also takes food for herself.  When we check the nest through the removable door, the hen sometimes has a look at the chicks from that angle but is not very worried about us looking at the chicks, or even handling them which we did recently when putting on some colour bands. The photo shows the hen, Hannah actually feeding one chick while they were out.


Shortly we will take some feather samples for dna and will then be sure what sexes of birds we have.  The males will again go to Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin and females to Abel Tasman Park with Project Janszoon, near Nelson.

The previous birds are all doing well in their respective areas, the males out flying free but the female still in an aviary at present, awaiting a transmitter.

Sep 072015

This Spring we have had at least three groups of parents bringing their chicks to our doors for feeding.  Either one or both of the parents have been released from rehab and have stayed around, causing us to ‘name’ them, Fawn jess, Zero [or black jess], and of course Lennie and Bubs.  You can tell it is a young one with the parent as they will only allow their partner or their own young to feed with them and there is quite a bit of wing-bashing.

There are  also a good number of young tuis and bellbirds coming to the liquid feeder, they sit in our Magnolia tree and wait their turn.  Easy to see at this time of year as the Magnolia is just coming into bud.

Feb 032015

 In early October our kaka pair, Hannah and Casey hatched one chick from their four eggs, which were laid very soon after the birds getting together.  The egg took around 30 days to hatch and we waited with anticipation.  The male was very attentive, feeding the female both in the nest and out of it.  Kaka parents feeding

 Throughout the last three months we watched the chick grow, first in the nest and then when it emerged, fully feathered as big as its parents. It is now feeding well and on 3 February was taken by Russell and friends, to Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin, where it will eventually fly free.  We think the bird is a male,  and it is very active and beautifully feathered.


The female laid four eggs again and we are pretty sure three have hatched as of Wednesday, 14 January.  Of course it is far too early to say we have  reared three chicks but we are feeding the parents lots of goodies morning and night and hopefully they will cope with the increased feeding.  They are eating a lot of different food, and really like huhu grubs, so if you have any we would welcome them for our birds.  They love digging through old wood to get the grubs, which are a great source of protein.



Apr 132014

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.

Apr 132014

Last year we sadly lost one of our female kaka who died of lymphoma.  When we asked the Department of Conservation for a friend for her there was none available but that there might be a male available to try and breed with her.  As she had already laid infertile eggs we thought this would be a good idea and would add to the number of kaka needed to eventually release into sanctuaries, both at Orokonui and the Nelson Region.

On inspection, it was found that our kaka aviary was far too small for a pair of birds to breed in, according to new DoC guidelines, so we were pretty down in the dumps for a while as we are now on pensions and there is no spare money to build aviaries, especially of the magnitude required.

We placed an advertisement in the local paper for deer gates, thinking it would be a cheap and fast way to build an aviary extension. An enterprising reporter, Hannah McLeod, thinking of a good human interest story, phoned us and we agreed to let her run a story requesting help. Graduate Environmental Officer Sean Spencer from Edendale Fonterra phoned and suggested they have a team-building effort to build our extension.

The upshot of that is, that the Edendale Fonterra Dairy Factory Casein Department are financing and building our aviary extension.  However this has been a drawn-out process because the men doing the work ended up having to stay at work longer than anticipated for the season and the aviary is not yet completed.

The team of mainly seven men under the guidance of Paul Branks have now been here sor several days intermittently and are ready to put up the netting. They have been enjoying listening to the birds while working, and the team-building is going really well too. The men have enjoyed the sight of several kereru being released and are really surprised at the work we do with injured native birds. 

Unfortunately with the work taking longer than originally thought, we will not have our male kaka before we go on holiday so the female is still lonely, as she has been now for several months….. WATCH THIS SPACE!

Following the newspaper story, we also received several offers of assistance, and donations of money from several people, including:

 Bruce and Barbara Maher

George Bell

Glenn Brown

Edith Jones

John and Elva Barnes

Brian and Chris Rance

We also received a pipe frame from Craig Cruickshank, which had been over a boat, and Russell, along with friends Randall Milne, Dave Simpson, Dave Whelan and family Colin Evans and Peter Stuart has now converted this frame into a second aviary, for use by young kaka if the pair eventually breed, or alternatively as another kereru or large parrot aviary. This was made possible by using Rudnev panels provided by Chris Richardson. and Alliance Company, also by donations of other construction items from Archer Construction and Goldpine Timber, Fogarty Engineering and Daniel Wijkstra plus the purchase of items at discounted rates from Steel & Tube, Blacks, and Allied Materials.

We have also received several kind offers of help or equipment, which have not been taken up,  from 

Graeme Robertson

Jade McConachie 

Eric Laughton

Ross McKenzie

Ollie Halleux

Colin Miller

Rob Green

Gus Inon

Fraser Mackie

Len Diack

We still need to do some tree planting after our holiday so may yet call on you!

A BIG THANKYOU to everyone who has supported us in this endeavour.