Kiwi chick survives despite broken egg

The kiwi on release day. Supplied image.

A kiwi chick has defied the odds by hatching from a damaged egg.

The kiwi egg has been repaired at the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa and the chick that hatched from it has now been released to Tongariro Forest, where it was lifted from.

The cracked egg arrived at the hatchery at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, on October 3 after it had been inadvertently kicked by the male kiwi that was incubating it.

Thanks to some successful first aid measures, a healthy kiwi chick hatched on 12 October, during Save Kiwi Month, Kiwi Hatchery Manager Emma Bean says.

Emma says the hatchery team was excited to welcome the chick after seeing the condition of the egg when it arrived.

“It was lucky that the chick was only about a week away from hatching when it arrived. Our trained staff cleaned the egg and applied a new technique of covering the large hole with sterile plastic to prevent excessive water loss from the egg.

“The hatching process is exhaustive for the bird and it needs a humid environment to internalise its yolk.

“We then used another piece of clean eggshell to cover it and help provide structural integrity. The last step was to attach the shell using masking tape and seal it with clear nail varnish – it was quite a process.”

The egg after repair. Supplied image.  

After nine days, the chick hatched successfully.

The situation was a reminder of the importance of programmes, training and facilities provided by the National Kiwi Hatchery and Kiwis for kiwi, Emma says.

“We recently co-hosted our Practitioners Kiwi Candling Course with Kiwis for kiwi. It’s a two-day course for staff from other facilities who are working with kiwi and other species. People from across New Zealand were attending and sharing their expertise amongst each other and with international representatives from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and San Diego Zoo.”

Egg candling is a technique that uses bright light to show a kiwi embryo’s stage of development.

“Candling courses are crucial for staff to understand all practical aspects of kiwi egg candling and how to safely transport kiwi eggs from the field.”

“It is a complicated process finding and transporting kiwi eggs, incubating and then hatching the baby chicks, rearing and feeding them until they are stoat proof and releasing them back into the forest as strong, healthy kiwi.”

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