The Takahe is a land bird that migrated from the Australian continent to New Zealand.

The Takahe thought to have arrived up to 20 million years ago. Since its migration from Australia, the New Zealand bird has changed from its Australian form. Its relative, the Pukeko, on the other hand, has not change much and still looks identical to its Australian forms.

These birds are alike in visual aspect and color to the smaller Pukeko. They are also a native bird but can also be found worldwide.It can fly but only for short distances and not very well.

They are grazing birds,and can be found in lower lying farmlands and near drains off the sides of roads. In Fiordland, the native Takahe use snow and tussock grasses for food and shelter. This grass is curled, broad-leaved and mid-ribbed.

The adult can live for more than twelve years and usually nests every spring. When nesting, they use the grass to make a raised bowl shaped nests. Nesting usually occurs after the snow melts around October.

These birds lay one to three eggs and most of them hatch. The eggs are pale in color and have mauve or brown spots. The parents of the eggs take turns during the 30-day incubation. The chicks are fed by both parents for three months. Normally only one chick makes it through the first winter alive and well.

This beautiful blue and green bird is completely flightless and is the largest member of the rail family alive in the world today. The average adult weighs around 6 pounds 5 ounces and is about 20 inches tall. It has short legs, like most flightless birds, that are red with red feet. It has an impressively strong beak that is also red. Their beak is strong enough to cut through strong fencing wire.

Being endemic to New Zealand, these birds can be found in the Murchison and Stuart mountains of Fiordland. These birds were introduced to the four island sanctuaries named Kapaiti, Mana, Tertiary Mantangi and Maud. It was thought to be extinct in the 30s but was rediscovered in the late 40s. In the mid 90s the population was numbered around 150 individuals.

The Takahe once populated the lands throughout the North and South Islands. It is thought though, that the North Islands’ Takahe was a different species than the South Islands’ Takahe because it was smaller and thinner boned. The North Island birds were, unfortunately, reduced to extinction. After it was rediscovery in 1948 Fiordland National Park was established for the conservation of the birds.

It was found in the early eighties that the population had decreased to 118 birds. This was a fast decline and was due to the rapid growing numbers of deer in the area. The deer are the major threat, because they eat all of the food that would normally be for them. The deer, more than anything, are detrimental to the Takahe.

Because of the deer having such a dramatic effect on the nutrition, the Takahe began decreasing quickly and dramatically in the 40s and 50s. The lack of nutrition contributed to the loss of chicks and their habitat. After the deer were controled, the Takahe population rose but not enough for it to be taken off the endangered species list.

The Takahe was sited everywhere throughout the mainland Islands in the 1800s but was thought to be extinct by 1900. The first to be recorded being seen and captured was on Resolution Island in 1849 by a seal hunter’s dog. There were two others caught this way. When these birds were rediscovered in 1948, they were discovered by Dr. Geoffrey Orbell. Dr. Orbell was an amateur naturalist from Invrtvsthill.

The Department of Conservation has taken them under its wing in a fight to conserve and raise the population and keep the species from becoming extinct. The DOC’s Takahe recovery plan is supported by the Flight Center New Zealand. The program focuses on establishing self-sustaining populations on predator-free islands and in Fiordland.

There has been extensive research done on the reproductive biology, nutrition and feeding. There has also been much research on the impact of deer and predators to the Takahe. Today, the Takahe is still on the endangered species list and the DOC is fighting hard to keep their numbers from dropping and eventually leading to extinction