Brilliant blue body, green wings and back, combined with sturdy red legs, feet and beak make the takahe a bird not to be forgotten. Territorial, it lives in pairs and both parents incubate and raise the young. Unfortunately their fertility rate is very low with many of the eggs infertile.takahe
Once found throughout NZ, the takahe (prounounced tar car hay ) was thought to be extinct for over fifty years before being rediscovered by Dr. Geoffrey Orbel, in 1948, while he was bush walking. The population of a round 150 continue to live mainly in the marginal environment of the South Islands Murchison Mountains, foraging for it’s favourite snow tussocks in competition with introduced herbivores.
Conservation measures include the eradication or reduction of the stoat which eat the eggs and the deer which feed on the same tussock. Management of their habitat is vital for their survival. Sadly the 2008 population count have found a large number have been killed by stoats. Read more here
Another measure to save these birds is to hatch eggs artificially. Removing one of the two eggs laid increases the number of chicks born as usually only one hatches in the wild. Young chicks are then reared; hand puppets for feeding, an artificial parent to shelter under and taped sounds of various feeding and alarm calls. This ensures they can be returned to the wild and are not dependent or imprinted on humans. Chicks are later transferred to Kapati and Maud Islands in the Cook Strait or a fenced area the Murchison valley.
One of my special memories is the time I spent as a Department of Conservation volunteer at the Te Anua Wildlife Centre with these beautiful birds and saw the young being fed with the puppets and knowing the numbers have declined is really upsetting.
Two places to view these birds that cannot fly are Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf, and Mt. Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the lower North Island. Mt. Bruce is open all year and is a good place to learn more about the work being done to save these, and other endangered species.