By 3 News online staff
A landslide on Codfish Island has killed Maggie the kakapo, dealing another blow to the already small population of rare bird.
Kakapo Recovery rangers found the bird's body last week buried deep in mud and debris which cut a path down the hill during heavy rain.
Manager Deidre Vercoe Scott says data from the adult female's transmitter confirmed the death occurred on May 20.
"This is the first death attributed to the forces of nature since the programme began and a reminder that they're wild birds living in a wild habitat," she says.
Maggie was estimated to be around 36 years old. Kakapo can live for more than 60 years.
Ms Scott says it is unfortunate to lose a female who may have had years of breeding ahead.
The population at the start of this year was 124, but was boosted to 130 after the successful hatching of six chicks.
However, with Maggie's death and two others in the past two months, there are only 127 birds left.
It is unlikely the population will grow again in the foreseeable future, she says.
"We aren’t expecting a breeding season next summer because of low fruit counts on the rimu trees there."
Maggie's DNA has been collected and preserved along with other samples in the hope future technology will allow it to be re-introduced into the future kakapo population.