Matuku (Bittern) Released into the Otama Wetland

A rescued Matuku – Hurepo (Australasian Bittern) was released into the Otama Wetland Reserve on the 26 of March by DOC Ranger Troy McDonald and Paul Kington from the Otama Reserves Group. The Matuku has been cared for by Annemieke Kregting from Kuaotunu Bird Rescue who looks after native birds that are found unwell and distressed, with the aim to release them back into the wild when recovered.

The Matuku was found in Tairua on the 12 of March very emaciated and missing some flight feathers. It was very small, possibly a juvenile. Initially, it was incubated and put on fluids and crop feed, and then placed into a private aviary and fed salmon smolt and mice, on which it thrived and doubled its body weight.

Emma Williams from Bittern Conservation was planning to come up from Christchurch to band the Matuku and attach a transmitter for research purposes, but due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, it was decided to release the Matuku back into the wild before it got too stressed in captivity and reliant on the feeding regime. It was feared that the lack of food variety could have affected its long term survival once released.

“In the end I care for the bird’s welfare and the release of one more of the species back into the wild” says Annemieke. The ORG was thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce the Matuku into the Otama Wetland as they are an endangered species and there have been sightings of other Matukus in our wetland. We hope to be able to increase our numbers of this rare bird.

Many thanks to all involved particularly Annemeikke at Kuaotunu Bird Rescue.