Sunday, November 28, 2010


Like the Kakapo, the Takahe is a colorful, flightless bird endemic to New Zealand. Also like the Kakapo, Takahe are on the brink of extinction, with less than 200 birds remaining. They were even believed to be extinct previous to 1948, as no one had seen them in decades. The population is now divided between a handful of protected, predator-free areas.

(Image Source)
Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri) are the largest members of the family Rallidae, measuring up to two feet in length and weighing 5-9lbs. As mentioned, they are flightless, and have small wings that are used for displays of both aggression and courtship. They are primarily blue in color, with green on the back and bright pink beaks and legs. Young birds are born almost completely black, including on the beak. They can their color as they age, and reach sexual maturity around three years old. Both parents care for their chicks for the 30 day incubation and three months of feeding, though usually only one of the 1-3 chicks that hatch will survive their first winter. Takahe can live up to twenty years.

Why are Takahe so threatened? They evolved to be flightless in an environment that had few ground predators or large competitors for food. Introduction of deer, dogs, and other non-native animals had detrimental effect on the population. Habitat loss and hunting have also played a part, and because Takahe reproduce slowly, bringing back their numbers can take a very long time. Breeding itself is even difficult because loss of genetic diversity has created infertile birds.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...