Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A bird I've never heard of...

Gay Schroer sent these amazing photographs of a New Zealand bird called the pukeko. This one is new to me!

Natural History

Porphyrio porphyrio melanotis

Description subspecies of the Purple Swamphen; the name “Pukeko” is of Maori origin; deep almost iridescent indigo blue back and wings black with a greenish gloss, undertail coverts pure white; scarlet bill extends to above the eyes so that it appears to have a “cap”; orange red legs and feet with long toes

Sex: Males slightly larger than females


Length: 20 inches

Wingspan: 39 inches

Weight: males 2.3 lbs; females 1.9 lbs.

Habitat: believed to have become established in New Zealand about 1000 years ago; unclear if introduced by Maori ancestors or self introduced

Status: Abundant throughout New Zealand

Range: native to New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania; also found in Indonesia and a number of islands between New Zealand and Australia

Behavior: able to fly, but prefer to run or swim from danger; believed they are losing their ablity to fly; breed in New Zealand between August and March; known to breed in groups – both sexes breeding with several mates during a breeding season (polygynandrous); nest near water in a clump of New Zealand raupo; untidy, cup shaped nests are built by the males; sometimes 2-3 females will share the same nest; six buff colored eggs with blotches of brown or purple are laid by each female; hatch asynchronously after 23-27 days; both sexes incubate; young offspring help to feed and care for chicks;

Diet: omnivorous; swamp and pasture vegetation, insects, frogs, small birds and eggs

Vocalization: group together and shriek loudly when attempting to drive off predators

√ Are regarded as a pest in farming areas for their damage to grain and vegetable crops, and given a chance will eat the eggs of fowl and ducks
√ Have been reported to hunt stoats off their territory with all Pukekos in the neighborhood joining in

1 comment:

DanielC15 said...

The Purple Gallinule is a bird that lives in the southern United States. It somewhat resembles the Purple Swamphen :-).