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The Kōkako

About the Kōkako

About the Kōkako

The North Island kōkako is a medium-sized forest bird and a proud member of the endemic wattlebird family. Alongside its threatened relatives, the tieke and the extinct huia, the North Island kōkako holds a special place in our hearts. Kōkako are poor flyers. Their short, rounded wings only allow flights and glides of up to 100 metres. Otherwise they move along tree branches from one level up to another, running and hopping on their long, strong legs. They are often compared to squirrels because of the way they hop and leap between trees. They are very mobile despite their poor flying abilities. Read more about the kōkako here.

Although the conservation status of the North Island kōkako is listed as 'Threatened - Nationally increasing', there are some important considerations. These remarkable birds are "conservation dependent" and face challenges such as predation and habitat fragmentation. Despite these obstacles, the North Island kōkako continues to captivate us with its intricate and haunting song, while playing a crucial role in forest regeneration through seed dispersal.

For the past 23 years, the Kaharoa Conservation Area has been a beacon of hope for the resident relict kōkako population.

Restoring Kōkako habitats

The Bay of Plenty is recognised as a stronghold for North Island kōkako. However, due to their limited flying ability, the remaining populations are isolated from one another. This situation underscores the urgency of linking populations.

Predator control

Introduced predators such as rats, possums and stoats have had a major impact on many of our native birds, kōkako especially. It is therefore imperative to reduce predator numbers and maintain them at a low enough density throughout their breeding season to have any chance of them successfully fledging chicks.  Effective predator control is an essential element when restoring kōkako habitat and is a key focus area for any group supporting kōkako.

KEEP works with community groups, landowners and other stakeholders to optimise their predator control efforts and support expansion into new areas.

Revegetating landscapes

Given there are large areas of open farmland between all discrete populations of NI kōkako, revegetating with ecologically appropriate indigenous tree species will also play a vital role. KEEP works alongside the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Trees that Count to support landowners wanting to re-purpose marginal farmland and replant with native trees to create  ‘stepping stones’ between forest remnants.

Song of the Kōkako

The beautiful, haunting song of the North Island kōkako is a mesmerizing and unique experience to hear. Both male and female kōkako contribute to this melody, often performing it as a duet that resonates through the forests.

Perched high in the canopy, these birds unleash rich, sonorous, and sustained notes that bear an uncanny resemblance to the deep tones of an organ. Their song is a testament to the their prowess as a vocalist in the avian world. Interwoven within this enchanting composition is the frequent close-contact call of 'took,' repeated in varying patterns. Press play above to hear the enchanting song of the kōkako.

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