June 23, 2015 - Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris)

Requested by: schmias

These birds once lived on the North Island of New Zealand. They fed mainly on wood burrowing grubs, filling the same ecological niche as woodpeckers do in other areas, and also eating small invertebrates and fruit. The largest species of wattlebird, they were one of the few birds with a sexually dimorphic beak, the females’ being longer and more curved than the males’. Their tail feathers were prized by the Maori, but bounties offered by wealthy Americans and Europeans led to overhunting. After the Duke of York was given a Huia feather to wear in his hat during a visit to New Zealand, demand for the feathers increased the pressure on the Huia population. Introduced mammalian predators and habitat loss also contributed to their decline. The last confirmed sighting of a Huia was in 1907.

Callaeas cinerea
©Matt Binns

The Kōkako (Callaeas cinerea) is a forest bird which is endemic to New Zealand. It is slate-grey with a black mask and wattles. It is one of three species of New Zealand Wattlebird. Previously widespread, Kōkako populations throughout New Zealand have been decimated by the predations of mammalian invasive species such as possums, stoats, cats and rats and their range has contracted significantly.

In the past this bird was called the New Zealand Crow even though it is not a crow at all, but looks like one from a distance.

The Kōkako is a poor flier and seldom flies more than 100 metres. The wings of this species are short and rounded. It prefers to hop and leap from branch to branch on its powerful grey legs. Its ecological niche is frequently compared to that of a flying squirrel.

Its diet consists of leaves, fern fronds, flowers, fruit and invertebrates.

Māori myth refers to Kōkako in several stories. In one notable story, Kōkako gave Māui water as he fought the sun by filling its plump wattles with water and offering it to Māui to quench his thirst. Māui rewarded Kōkako for its kindness by stretching its legs until they were lean, long and strong, so that Kōkako could easily leap through the forest to find food.

The Kōkako appears on the reverse side of the New Zealand $50 note.

Fact Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dkako

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One of the first piccies with my new camera. While it can’t manage a macro quite like my old faithful, it can zoom to the extreme. So now I have the ability to photograph wildlife really close up from a fair distance away. This wattlebird was well up in our gungurru and I managed a decent shot in poor light. There will be bird paintings in my future! #nikoncoolpixp520 #nikoncoolpix #nikon #wattlebird #birds #gungurru