We were to welcome two very rare Whio, or blue ducks, to the park on the 1st of February! This is the first time that Rainbow Springs have had Whio in residence.
Whio are found only in New Zealand, and are rarer than some species of kiwi. They are currently classified as endangered, with an estimated population of between 2,000-3,000 birds.
The breeding pair are from Peacock Springs in Canterbury and were flown up by plane to Rotorua.
Whio are at risk of becoming extinct, therefore this is a great opportunity for Rainbow Springs to get involved and help ensure this species survives!
The Whio are a very welcome addition to the park, and we look forward to letting our visitors to the park catch a glimpse of this special New Zealand taonga in the near future!
The birds are housed in a large avairy that they share with Kaka birds and Sacred Kingfishers. The enclosure has a fresh water stream running through it which is very important as Whio require clean, flowing water to be healthy and happy, and they will be fed on a diet of very special formulated pellets that meet all of their dietary requirements.
Eventually we hope that the pair will feel comfortable enough in their new home and begin to breed, and once their ducklings are strong enough we plan to release them back into the wild.
Whio are alpine ducks, usually found in clear, fast-flowing water. They are named because of the distinctive “whi-o” whistle made by the males, which can be heard over the noise of the water.
Whio are a taonga (treasured) species that Māori have a strong cultural and historical connection with. Traditionally the species could be found throughout the Ngai Tahu takiwa (territory).