Zealand birds evolved in isolation over millions of years. Unlike
elsewhere, there were no land mammals such as bears, badgers,
lions or goats. Free from attack and competition from mammals,
many birds became ground-dwellers. They were therefore natural
prey for humans and the predators they brought, and vulnerable
to land clearance. In New Zealand, European settlers noticed
the evidence for the extinction of the megafauna – moa
and other large birds – from around the late 1830s
EXTINCT BIRDS OF NEW ZEALAND
SOUTH ISLAND KOKAKO
SOUTH ISLAND KOKAKO
The kokako is the most endangered of
New Zealand's two remaining endemic wattlebirds, and
one of the country's most endeared birds. The kokako's
loud, melodious song that carries through the forest
with stereophonic clarity is one of the marvels of nature.
Each pair sing their own distinctive duet for half an
hour at dawn, with other birds joining in the choir.
Both subspecies of kokako were once common on all ranges
of mature podocarp-hardwood forests throughout New Zealand.
In the early 1900s, South Island kokako were widespread
throughout the South Island and Stewart Island. It has
not been sighted for 33 years and is considered extinct.
An extensive final search in 2000, in eight remote areas
accessable only by boat and helicopter, from Nelson
Lakes to Stewart Island was unsuccessful.
The two subspecies are almost identical in appearance.
The South Island kokako has brightly coloured yellow
or orange "wattles" on both sides of its gape
that meet below the neck.
remains of species including large extinct geese, adzebills,
and the giant Haast’s eagle, were discovered before the
end of the 19th century. Just how many smaller birds had become
extinct was not realised until after 1990, when the food remains
of the extinct laughing owl were discovered and analysed. Beneath
the owl’s former roosts in sheltered caves were layers
of bones of their prey, piled up over centuries. These bones
were evidence of the former abundance of birds such as saddlebacks,
now killed off on the mainland, and surviving only on predator-free
TO NEW ZEALAND - HOME OF LORD OF THE RINGS