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Food fit for a weka!

We are frequently asked what food we give to the weka.

When we had two birds, it wasn't much of a problem. Their main diet was poultry pellets, supplemented by dinner scraps. There was also a lot of natural food in the aviary — bugs etc.

In the early days of the programme we were also encouraged to collect road-killed hedgehogs and possums, something we never managed to do!

We did visit one aviary which contained a "ripe" pig's head. Feeding a lot of weka creates more of a challenge. We supplement the pellets with cooked pasta (wholemeal where possible), bread, fruit, cheese, cooked chicken bones, sweet corn, raw and cooked mutton bones.

Chicks require large, moist food and so we have established a worm farm so that we have a constant supply of worms with which to feed to chicks. We also feed them cooked egg.

We are grateful for any food (or snails) that has been given to us. Providing a good variety allows the birds some choice.

In the wild, the weka feeds mainly on fruit from the native bush, crickets, worms, snails, slugs, beetles etc.

One day, we saw one of the birds catch a bee or wasp which obviously stung him. He clawed at his throat, rushed to the pool to drink and looked quite sorry for himself for a while.

They will kill and eat rats and mice and so there are big advantages in having them around. Mice are firm favourites and we've seen them swallowed whole!

Our two breeding pairs produced three chicks between them at the beginning of June and they seem to be thriving, despite winter weather.

The chicks are kept well hidden. Watching them from a hide is time-consuming but rewarding.