T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Species: P. hochstetteri
Binomial name: Porphyrio hochstetteri
Synonyms: Notornis mantelli, Porphyrio mantelli hochstetter.
Common names: Takahe, South Island Takahe

Not in Taranaki

The Takahē is a rare indigenous, stocky, sedentary, flightless bird. It is a bird with an impressive red beak, pink stout legs and reduced wings. It is mainly purple-blue in colour, with a greenish back and inner wings. It has a red frontal shield and red-based pink bill. The Takahē overall length averages 63 cm and its average weight is about 2.7 kg in males and 2.3 kg in females. The standing height is around 50 cm. Sexes are similar, the females being slightly smaller. The territorial Takahē is monogamous and it builds a bulky nest under bushes and scrub and lays two buff eggs. Chicks can begin breeding at the end of their first year but usually start in their second. It is long-lived bird probably 14-20 years.  Its diet in the wild is insects, juices from the bases of Chionochloa snow tussock and on a species of fern rhizome.

It is suggested that the arrival of Polynesian settlers, about 800-1000 years ago, who brought dogs and Polynesian rats and hunted Takahē for food, started a decline in their numbers. A major factor in the decline of this species was European settlement in the nineteenth century which almost wiped them out through hunting and the actions of introduced mammals such as predators (e.g. stoats) and the red deer (Cervus elaphus) which competed for the tussock.

This unique bird is the largest living member of the rail family, was once thought to be extinct. There were only four recorded sightings of Takahē between 1800 and 1898 and then none were seen until 1948 when a few pairs were rediscovered by Geoffrey Orbell near Lake Te Anau in alpine grasslands in the Murchison Mountains, South Island. In the wild, it is still present at this location. Small numbers have been successfully translocated to four predator-free offshore islands, Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti, Maud and Mana, where they can be viewed by the public. Additionally, captive Takahē can be viewed at Te Anau and Mt Bruce wildlife centres. In June 2006 a pair of Takahē were relocated to the Maungatautari Restoration Project. In January 2011 two Takahē were released in Zealandia, Wellington.

In July 2008, a Department of Conservation worker shot one on Mana Island, after mistaking it for a pukeko during a cull.

Click green icon to hear the call of a Weka. Thanks to http://www.kiwi-wildlife.co.nz/

For more information visit: http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/tsrp61entire.pdf

The soundbar icon below is a Radio New Zealand report on the rarest of numerous endangered species at the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington, the South Island takahe. T2 and his longtime partner Puffin are advocacy birds, which means they’re no longer needed as part of the Takahe breeding programme so they can go to sanctuaries like Zealandia to live out their twilight years. But against the odds, for the past two years, this older couple have nested and produced eggs in their new home.  

The photo below was taken at the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington   http://www.visitzealandia.com/

T2 and Puffin at a feeding station. Note the location of radio transmitter aerials.

The identification leg ring.

Takahe egg and nest.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information     https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/