takahe chick

Zealandia's Takahē Chick at just over two months

Contemplating the big wide world. The chick's coloured feathers are just starting to come in over the black down. Hannah Shand described it as if someone had started painting a watercolour picture.

Yesterday we got the opportunity to visit with and photograph Zealandia's takahē chick - the first chick for the eco-sanctuary and one of only about 370 takahē left in the world. As you can imagine, every chick is precious and vital for the survival of their species. So for now, there is restricted access, but hopefully soon the general public will be able to see the chick too. (Our access was due to our roles as volunteer Sanctuary Storytellers).

The photo above is my favourite from the shoot - I just love the look of anticipation and hope - it's certainly what I felt watching the wee chick forge her independence from her parents. And yes, I'm calling her a she, but we won't know for sure until DNA testing is done.
[Update: she's a he! And now has the name Te Āwhiorangi.]

The parents, Orbell and Nio are busy teaching her how to forage and fend for herself. At one point, Nio even let the chick wander over to curiously check out the clowns hiding in the bushes - fortunately we were deemed acceptable and the family continued to go about their business.

A takahē chick curiously approaches the photographers while her mother keeps a watchful eye across the other side of the mudflat.
Nio Takahē keeps an attentive eye on her curious chick
A takahē feeds his chick the fleshy base of a grass stalk while holding the stalk in one claw.
Orbell Takahē broke off a grass stalk and pulled out the fleshy base to feed to the chick.
A tahahē chick drinking and making splashes in the water
Over by a dead fern, the chick was much more camouflaged.
Profile of a takahē chick's head with the flank of an adult takahē blurred in the background
A takahē chick's beak starts of white, then turns black, and eventually turns red. You can just see a tiny bit of white left on the tip of this 2.5 month old chick's beak.
A takahē chick feeding on grass seeds on a lawn by holding the stalk with one foot
The chick has started foraging for herself, holding grass with one foot to get easier access to the seeds and fleshy base.
Takahe chick raising vestigial wing, showing claw
Takahē might be flightless but they do have vestigial wings. Here the chick is excitedly waving her wings in the hope that Nio will feed her. Note the little claw at the end of the "elbow" (my bird anatomy is a bit shaky so feel free to comment if you know more about what this claw might have been for)
Update 7 April 2019: after many requests, I've released two of these photos as fine-art prints - check out the Wildlife Photography category in my store.
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2 comments

Appreciatte your blog post

Holly A07 Jun 2022
So glad you liked it – thanks for visiting!

Judi07 Jun 2022

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