Sunday, August 16, 2020

The habitat, food and feeding ecology of kakapo in Fiordland: a synopsis from the unpublished MSc thesis of Richard Gray

TitleThe habitat, food and feeding ecology of kakapo in Fiordland: a synopsis from the unpublished MSc thesis of Richard Gray
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsButler, DJ
JournalNotornis
Volume53
Issue1
Pagination55-79
Type of Articlepaper
Keywordsdiet, faecal analysis, feeding technique, Fiordland, habitat, Kakapo, Strigops habroptilus
Abstract

Gray studied the last natural mainland population of kakapo in Fiordland in the 1970s. Between 1974 and 1977 all 15 male birds located occupied home ranges high on the sides of valleys in areas of diverse vegetation associated with the tree line or avalanche and alluvial fans. Track-and-bowl systems were frequently positioned on the crests of ridges and knolls on well-drained sunny slopes. Studies of feeding sign and of faecal content using cuticle analysis provided detail of kakapo diet, confirming the bird to be an herbivore. About 80 species of plants were eaten in Fiordland. The kakapo bill is adapted to crushing and extracting nutrients and retaining fibre which is expelled as distinctive ‘chews’. A preliminary study of the nutrients in kakapo food suggested that the birds selected the most nutritious plant parts and species.

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