Friday, May 21, 2010

Moho-pereru - the Banded Rail

This is one of those birds that I have always wanted to see in the wild. However, it is small and fast and even difficult to see in captivity. When I used to volunteer at Orana Park - a local wildlife park/zoo, there were a family of these in the Walkthrough aviary - and it still took me months to actually see one. They are the little cousin to the weka, and also to the pukeko. They make their home in mangrove swamps, salt marshes and rush-covered freshwater ponds, particularly in the North Island. In the South they are relatively rare. I have certainly never seen one. Each pair defends their own territory, and they may stay in one place for many years. They hunt for crabs and invertebrates amongst the mud. If danger threatens, they run away - although capable of flight, they rarely engage in it. This makes them easy prey to introduced mammalian predators. Despite being unwilling to fly, they are a widely distributed species - with a multitude of subspecies littered throughout Australia, Melanasia and Indonesia.

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