This North Island brown kiwi faces a long road to recovery after being rescued from a Taranaki road culvert.
How the battered bird got into the culvert early last month remains a mystery.
How he survived
But he owes his survival to two roading inspectors from infrastructure company Downer, and the combined efforts of rangers from the DoC’s New Plymouth office, the New Plymouth Veterinary Group, and specialists at Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital in Palmerston North.
The kiwi was discovered by Downer’s Logan Turner and his colleague Isaak Ryan, who were inspecting culverts on State Highway 3 near Tongaporutu.
At first glance Isaak Ryan didn’t spot the kiwi, but Logan and Ryan were surprised when a second look revealed the kiwi and its plight.
“It was the first time I’d seen a kiwi in real life, so it was pretty cool. I have never come across wildlife while inspecting culverts before,” Logan says.
A call to the DoC hotline
The two men called the 0800 DoC HOT line to tell DoC of the kiwi’s predicament and describe the tools needed to remove the metal grate and save the bird.
Later, in overalls and wearing elbow-length bird-handling gloves, DOC Ranger Alison Evans clambered into sump leading off the culvert and picked up the kiwi.
“It didn’t have any objection to being picked up and seemed almost relieved to be rescued. It was underweight, cold and suffering from exhaustion,” Alison says.
“The culvert was an inhospitable place to be imprisoned, with large trucks speeding past only a few metres away and water at the bottom of the sump.”
A Kiwi from the wild
It wasn’t leg-banded or microchipped, suggesting it was a wild kiwi and not bred in captivity or released into the conservation area.
The emaciated and battered bird was taken to Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital, where staff immediately began treat ment to keep it alive.
Wildbase technician Pauline Nijman says the kiwi had been trying unsuccessfully to escape and the nails on each of his feet were worn down to the bone.
Intensive care, including pedicures
So far the kiwi has had several weeks of care, including several ‘pedicures’ to clean the nail and bone, x-rays and blood samples.
Pauline says: “This kiwi is such a fighter!
“We are happy to report the little superstar is eating well in hospital and after the first week – when it was touch and go – he has started to venture around his room, exercise, forage and gain some much needed weight.
“But it’s going to be a long journey,”
Photos: Wildbase Hospital