Tales of Tiritiri

Date posted: 25-Jun-2014

Your 'tales of Tiritiri' are now on the website! As part of our 25th Anniversary..

More Specialist Guided Walks

Date posted: 17-Jun-2014

If your interest is in ornithology or photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Isl..

2014 Photo Competition

Date posted: 07-Jun-2014

The results are out! Many thanks to our judge Bruce Shanks for doing such a wonderful jo..

25th Annniversary celebrations

Date posted: 04-Dec-2013

The Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi (SoTM) turned 25 in October 2013! We are planning lot..

Ecology Journal marks 25 years of Tiritiri

Date posted: 25-Nov-2013

The latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology is dedicated entirely to Tiritiri..

New recipe book

Date posted: 22-Oct-2013

Our new recipe book, Gourmet on Tiritiri Matangi Island - Second helpings, has just..

New bequests initiative

Date posted: 09-Sep-2013

Watch out for coverage in the national media this week for a new campaign by 'Include a Charity ..

New 2014 Calendar now available

Date posted: 03-Sep-2013

Our stunning new calendar is now available. For just $15 you'll have a wonderful selection of ph..

2013 Photo Competition

Date posted: 27-Jan-2013

It is that time of year again, when we are looking for entries to our photographic c..

Film of the Kokako Week Jazz Concert

Date posted: 03-Oct-2012

Many thanks to Pieter Huisman who made this short film of the wonderful Jazz concert hel..

North Island Kokako

Scientific name:

 Callaeas wilsoni

 

 

Conservation status

 Endemic, At risk - recovering

Mainland status:

 N.I only, mainly northern Urewera

Size:

 38cm, 230g

Lifespan:

 20+ Years

Breeding:

 October - December

Diet:

 Mainly foliage and fruit, some invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:

 3 birds in 1997

Population on Tiri:

 Normally 20-30 birds

Total population:

 Around 2,000 in 2012


Kokako - photographer: Alex MitchellBelonging to the wattlebird family, an ancient group of birds, North Island kōkako have bright blue wattles at the base of the bill. Their plumage is mainly grey with a bluish tinge, they have long black legs, short rounded wings, a long tail, and a black facial mask. The juveniles are have pink wattles which slowly turn to lilac, then blue as they mature. The South Island sub-species, officially regarded as extinct, had orange wattles.

Because their wings are short relative to their body size, kōkako are poor fliers, preferring to move through the forest by bounding from tree to tree on their strong legs. They will fly short distances and often glide from the tree tops down to the lower branches or forest floor, but their wings are too weak for them to fly upwards.

They form life-long pairs and seldom stray from their permanent territories, preferring tall, mixed podocarp and hardwood forests with a high diversity of plant species. They feed on leaves all year round at all levels of the forest; they also eat fruits when available and invertebrates during summer and autumn, especially when feeding chicks. During the weeks prior to nesting, the male frequently feeds the female (see photo below).

The kōkako is notable for its haunting, mournful organ- or flute-like calls, often heard shortly after dawn. Other calls include a range of soft clucks and cat-like mewing notes.

Three kōkako (2 males and 1 female) were released on Tiritiri Matangi in 1997, followed by four more male birds in 1998. Of the original three birds, one male was predated immediately after release, but the remaining pair has lived in Wattle Valley for many years and raised over 20 chicks, most of which have been removed from the Island to other areas.

Detailed information about the kōkako on Tiritiri Matangi can be found here.

Click here to view a film (48 Mb) of Te Rae and Chatters feeding their chicks on their nest near the Kawerau Track in December 2013.

Click here to view a short film (90 Mb) of a pair of kōkako feeding their chicks in the Hunuas. 
 
And you can learn more about the North Island kōkako at New Zealand Birds Online.
  

Photography by: Alex Mitchell © (top right) and Kay Milton © (bottom left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking
.