Since 1995, BNZ Operation Nest Egg has been used every breeding season. It is used on all kiwi species except little spotted kiwi.
Who is doing it?
BNZ Operation Nest Egg combines the efforts of the Department of Conservation (DOC), community kiwi conservation groups, iwi, researchers and captive rearing facilities, and raises more than 200 chicks each year.
Captive rearing facilities in the North and South Islands include: Auckland Zoo, Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, the Whangarei Native Bird Rescue Centre, Napier’s Westshore Wildlife Reserve, Willowbank Wildlife reserve in Christchurch, Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre and the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef/Waiau.
Most chicks are hatched at Kiwi Encounter (more than 120 eggs a year) and Auckland Zoo (up to 25 eggs each year). Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and the West Coast Wildlife Centre focus mainly on New Zealand’s two most endangered kiwi species— Ōkārito’s rowi and the Haast tokoeka.
Because kiwi hold a special place in Māori culture, and to recognise the important relationship between living things and the land on which they were born, there is often a ceremony by mana whenua (local people) to welcome the young kiwi back to the place of their birth.
The idea for BNZ Operation Nest Egg hatched in 1994, when researchers noticed that almost all kiwi chicks were killed by stoats, but adult kiwi were not.
An existing technique was adapted by developing specific skills to collect, transport and incubate kiwi eggs, and keep young chicks alive in captivity. The early trials were with brown kiwi—with only 5% of wild-hatched chicks surviving to adulthood, there was not much to lose.
Operation Nest Egg best practice manual, published 2012 can be found here