Nelson Nature fortnightly nature fix.
Welcome to the Nelson Nature fortnightly nature fix - a regular snippet about Nelson's natural environment, and what we can do to look after it. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy getting a regular nature fix, please pass this on and encourage them to sign up.
Forest and Bird have named the kokako, known for its haunting song, as the 2016 'Bird of the Year.' In Maori mythology, as Maui chased and fought the sun, he was sustained by the kokako which filled its wattles with water for him to drink. In return the kokako was rewarded with long, slender legs to help it run through the forest. Sadly, its wings remained short and this may be one reason it became easy prey for introduced predators.
There are two species of this elusive, bird. The better known North Island kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) is dark blue-grey in colour with a long tail, short wings and a blue wattle. It can be found in native North Island forest habitats but is most likely to be seen in sanctuary environments. The South Island kokako (Callaeas cinerea) has similar colouring and form, but has orange or yellow wattles.
In 2007, after 40 million years of life in our forests, the South Island kokako shared the fate of its near relative, the huia, when it was declared extinct by the Department of Conservation. More recently there have been a few reported sightings of this mysterious bird, and DOC has changed the status of the South Island kokako to being “data deficient”
The most recent reports of sightings of the South Island kokako were in the Cable Bay and Marsden Valley areas of Nelson, but despite dedicated searching, there is only anecdotal evidence of their existence. The plight of this unique bird is a timely reminder of the importance of preserving habitat and controlling predators so that we do not lose any more of these taonga.
Follow the links to find out more about the South Island kokako and the ongoing search for surviving birds
If you would like to be involved in predator control or forest regeneration projects as a Nelson Nature Volunteer, please contact email@example.com