Callaeas cinereus

Physical Description

The Kōkako is a large, distinctive songbird with beautiful plumage. It has bluish-grey feathers, a long, elegant tail, and a dark mask around its eyes. The most striking feature of the Kōkako is its vibrant blue wattles, which hang down from either side of its beak.

Habitat and Range

Kōkako are endemic to New Zealand and are primarily found in lowland and montane forests of the North Island. They prefer mature native forests with a dense canopy and an understory of shrubs and trees.

Feeding Habits

Kōkako are omnivorous birds, feeding on various food sources. They primarily eat the leaves, flowers, and fruit of native trees, such as tawa, miro, and kahikatea. They also consume insects, snails, and occasionally nectar.

Breeding and Nesting

Kōkako form monogamous pairs during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, moss, and other plant materials, usually situated on a horizontal branch or fork in a tree. The female lays 1-3 eggs, and both parents participate in incubation and raising the chicks.

Conservation Status

The Kōkako is classified as a threatened species in New Zealand. Their populations have declined due to habitat loss, predation by introduced species (such as rats, stoats, and possums), and competition with other bird species. Conservation efforts, including predator control and habitat restoration, aim to protect and increase Kōkako populations.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Kōkako strongly associates with native trees that provide essential resources for their survival. They mainly rely on trees with large fleshy fruits, such as tawa and miro, which form a significant part of their diet. Kōkako are known for their role in seed dispersal, helping to regenerate forests by spreading the seeds of these trees.

Interesting Facts

  • Kōkako are renowned for their melodic and haunting song, consisting of rich, flute-like notes. They have a unique ability to produce duets, with pairs of birds singing in harmony.
  • They are known for their extraordinary agility and acrobatic abilities, hopping along branches and even hanging upside down to reach their food.
  • The Kōkako holds cultural significance to Māori, and its image is often used in art and storytelling. It is considered a forest symbol and revered for its beauty and song.