Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Takahē, Porphyrio mantelli, is a flightless bird native to New Zealand which belongs to the rail family. It was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains on the South Island in 1948. The North Island subspecies is recently extinct.
This is a very large rail, the largest in the family at 63 cm in length. It is stocky, with reduced wings, strong legs and a massive bill.
The adult Takahē is mainly purple-blue, with a greenish back and innner wings. It has a red frontal shield and red-based pink bill. The legs are pink. Sexes are similar, but young birds have mainly pale brown plumage. This is a noisy species with a loud clowp call.
The Takahē is found in alpine grasslands habitats. It eats a wide range of plant food, and its diet is similar to that of Purple Swamphen.
This species builds a bulky nest under bushes and scrubs and lays two buff eggs. It is territorial. The chick survival rate is 73-97%.
The near-extinction of the Takahē is due to a number of factors, but over-hunting, loss of habitat and introduced predators have all played a part.
The species is still present in the location where it was rediscovered in the Murchison Mountains. Small numbers have also been successfully translocated to four predator-free offshore islands, Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti, Maud and Mana, where it can be viewed by the public.
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