The Takahē is a large flightless bird and one of New Zealand's most iconic and rarest species. It has a robust build with blue-purple plumage on its head and back, a greenish-blue breast, and a red frontal shield on its forehead. Takahē have a stout red beak, strong legs, and large feet adapted for walking on uneven terrain. They can reach a length of up to 63 centimetres (25 inches) and weigh around 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds).
Takahē are found only in specific alpine and subalpine habitats of New Zealand. Historically, they inhabited various locations across the country, but their range has significantly reduced over time. Today, they are primarily restricted to a few protected and managed sites, including Fiordland and the Murchison Mountains in the South Island.
Takahē are herbivorous birds that feed on various plant materials. They primarily graze on the leaves, stems, and roots of grasses, sedges, and other herbaceous plants. Their specialised digestive system allows them to extract nutrients from tough and fibrous vegetation. During the breeding season, they may also consume additional plant parts, such as flowers and fruits.
Takahē are monogamous birds that form long-term pair bonds. They construct large nests made of tussock grass, rushes, and other vegetation, which are often located in wetland or swampy areas. The female lays a clutch of 1 to 3 eggs, which both parents incubate for approximately 30 days. The chicks are precocial, meaning they are relatively mature and mobile upon hatching.
The Takahē is considered critically endangered, with a small and fragile population. They were once considered extinct, but a small remnant population was discovered in 1948, leading to conservation efforts to protect and restore the species. Intensive management and breeding programs have helped increase their numbers, but they still face ongoing threats, including habitat loss, introduced predators, and diseases.
Takahē primarily inhabits alpine and subalpine grasslands, wetlands, and tussock-dominated habitats. They rely on various grass species, sedges, and other herbaceous plants as their main food sources. While they may not have specific tree preferences due to their habitat preferences, they are often associated with areas where tussock grasses (such as Chionochloa spp.) dominate.