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.
Nio Takahē keeps an attentive eye on her curious chick
Orbell Takahē broke off a grass stalk and pulled out the fleshy base to feed to the chick.
Over by a dead fern, the chick was much more camouflaged.
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.
The chick has started foraging for herself, holding grass with one foot to get easier access to the seeds and fleshy base.
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)