Daily Archives: September 9, 2011

Cool Kokako

I am particularly fond of our native North Island Kokako and its beautiful fluting song. Here is the brief information that our Department of Conservation provides about the Kokako on its website:

“North Island kōkako

The kōkako belongs to the endemic New Zealand wattlebirds (Callaeidae), an ancient family of birds which includes the North and South Island saddleback and the extinct huia.
The kōkako is the only member of its family still surviving on the mainland. A dark bluish-grey bird with a long tail and short wings, it has a pair of brightly coloured, fleshy “wattles” extending from either side of its gape to meet below the neck.
The North Island kōkako has blue wattles, while the South Island kōkako has orange or yellow wattles. The bird is not particularly good at flying and prefers to use its powerful legs to leap and run through the forest.”
My earlier experience of a Kokako in the wild was when I visited Kapiti Island (a wildlife sanctuary) and as I trudged up the steep terrain that day I was stopped in my tracks by the unique melodious song coming from far across the gully. Prior to that I had only heard recordings of this lovely song.

So I was delighted to discover that there was a Kokako in captivity at Pukaha, Mt Bruce, when we visited there recently. This bird was recovered from the wild after it was blown out of its nest as a young fledgling and was hand reared. It is the only one in captivity and must remain in an aviary in order to survive.

Kokako at Mt Bruce

It was such a privilege to stand so close to a Kokako and to watch its movements, to hear it whistle (it had learnt to wolf whistle sadly while being hand reared) and to see its lovely plumage. With so much human contact this Kokako had not learnt to sing its natural song. However in terms of educating people this friendly, healthy bird has much to offer in terms of promoting programmes to ensure the species does not become extinct.

Kokako print

My Dad taught me so much about the native bush and the birds and wildlife in our country and for that I am very grateful. I just wish he had lived longer to see the results of programmes and sanctuaries that mean we get to see so many more of our native birds, many of whom have been on the endangered species list for a long time.