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South Island Takahe

From Opus

Adult with juvenilePhoto © by Jack FolkersTiritiri Matangi Island (near Auckland), New Zealand, 10 March 2007
Adult with juvenile
Photo © by Jack Folkers
Tiritiri Matangi Island (near Auckland), New Zealand, 10 March 2007
Porphyrio hochstetteri


[edit] Identification

63cm (about 25in) 3kg (6.6lbs) - the largest living member of the rail family.
Adult looks like a very large Pukeko (Australasian Swamphen), but with a massive scarlet bill and shield, paler towards the tip. Eyes are brown; legs and feet are red. Plumage colour ranges from an iridescent dark blue head, neck and breast, with peacock blue shoulders to an olive green and blue back and wings. White undertail.
Immature is duller with a dark grey bill and shield.

Bill detailPhoto © by HelenBTiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand, 20 October 2000
Bill detail
Photo © by HelenB
Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand, 20 October 2000

[edit] Distribution

Natural range is now restricted to mountains west of Lake Te Anau, southwestern South Island (New Zealand).

[edit] History

This unusual New Zealand bird was once thought to be extinct. There were only four recorded sightings in the 19th century. After that, none were seen until 1948, when a few pairs were rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains, in Fiordland, South Island.

[edit] Introduction

All introduced birds are South Island Takahe.

  • Island sanctuaries (predator free environments): Tiritiri Matangi Island, Kapiti Island, Maud and Mana Islands. The population on these islands has now reached about 60 birds.
  • Mount Bruce Sanctuary on North Island. Birds are kept in semi-natural surroundings and are free to roam, but essentially are captive within this fenced park.

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly considered conspecific with North Island Takahe.

[edit] Subspecies

This is a monotypic species.[1]

[edit] Habitat

Native tussock grasslands and beech forests.

[edit] Behaviour


[edit] Diet

Mainly vegetarian, feeding on the tough stems of tussock and other grasses.

[edit] Breeding

Breeds from October to January. The clutch consists of 1-3 eggs, which hatch after around 30 days. Both adults incubate the eggs and care for the young.

[edit] Vocalisation

Contact call is a single rising squawk, similar to the contact calls of Weka. If alarmed gives a low, resonant boomp or a percussive oomp, slowly repeated. Various clucking calls reported when feeding and a loud screech or hiss when threatened.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334207
  3. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Sharpe, C.J. (2017). South Island Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 March 2017).
  4. Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2, raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  5. New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). (2006) "Takahe: land birds." Available at: Accessed March 17, 2017.
  6. Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc. 2010. "Takahe on Tiri" Available at: Accessed March 17, 2017.
  7. Maxwell, J.M. 2013. Takahe. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.

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