Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 19th, 2011
The Kōkako (Callaeas cinerea) is a forest bird which is endemic to New Zealand. It is slate-grey with a black mask and wattles. It is one of three species of New Zealand Wattlebird, the other two being the endangered Tieke (saddleback) and the extinct Huia. Previously widespread, Kōkako populations throughout New Zealand have been decimated by the predations of mammalian invasive species such as possums, stoats, cats and rats and their range has contracted significantly. There were formerly two sub-species of Kōkako, North Island and South Island, although the South Island subspecies may now be extinct. South Island Kōkako (Callaeas cinerea cinerea) has largely orange wattles, with only a small patch of blue at the base, as opposed to the northern subspecies that has blue wattles.
New Zealand Media is reporting this news on April 19, 2011:
A tramper who is believed to have snapped a photo of a rare South Island kokako in Kahurangi National Park is being hunted by a band of bird lovers.
Golden Bay’s Alec Milne said the South Island Kokako Investigation Team was keen to contact a woman who took a picture of a wattled bird on March 29. The woman was tramping between Salisbury and Balloon huts at the time, he said.
“She was on the side of the track and beckoned to a backpacker to have a look at the bird which she said should not be there.”
Mr Milne said he heard of the incident through a driver who later gave the backpacker a lift out of the park.
Mr Milne said securing a photograph of a kokako, which has been listed as functionally extinct by the Department of Conservation, would be a coup. North Island kokako have survived and are protected. But numbers of South Island kokako, which had a distinctive orange wattle, had been extremely low for the last 100 years, he said. However, Mr Milne said 57 unconfirmed reported sightings were made of the South Island kokako in the 20 years to 2010.
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