card
124

kagu

OLogy Series
animal
card
124

kagu

OLogy Series
animal

New Caledonia, a tiny island east of Australia, is the only place where an unusual bird called the kagu is found. About the size of a chicken, the kagu has gray-blue feathers and long, bright-red legs. Just before dawn, kagu call out with a very distinctive song that can be heard throughout the forest. Scientists still have a lot to learn about this beautiful bird.

Before scientists came to the kagu's rescue, which was one of the main threats to the kagu?

rain storms

air pollution from island factories

imported or introduced species, such as dogs, cats, and rats

Are you right?

Correct!

When settlers arrived in New Caledonia, they brought dogs, cats, rats, and pigs with them. These introduced animals eat kagu and their eggs. Kagu are also losing their homes because the forests they live in are being destroyed.

The male kagu runs, dances, and tumbles about when he is:

hungry

trying to attract a female kagu

scaring predators that are invading his territory

Are you right?

Correct!

The male kagu performs a special courtship dance to attract a female. If the female accepts the male, they work together as a pair to raise their babies. The female lays a single brown, spotted egg.

The kagu is a powerful flier, able to reach heights of 200 feet over the ground.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

They run very quickly, and glide only briefly. When there are no predators or introduced species around, over thousands of years, many birds like kagu lose their ability to fly.

When a kagu is annoyed, it raises its crest, spreads its wings, and hisses like a snake.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

When kagu call each other, the sound often scares people visiting the island. Their calls range from piercing screams to dog-like barks.

kagu
Scientific name: Rhynochetos jubatus
Size: a little over one foot tall
Habitat: found only in the tropical forests of New Caledonia, a remote island in the South Pacific
Diet: insect larvae
Characteristics: almost flightless with gray, white, and black feathers; long, blood-red beak
Threats: dogs, cats, rats, and other invasive species

Image credits: courtesy of Trevor Quested.