NZ WILDLIFE : Breakfast Battles: Takahē versus pukeko

Takahē and pukeko at the Te Anau Wildlife Park battle it out for the daily breakfast corn cob.

By Caroline Carter, Community Relations Ranger, Te Anau

Mention ‘Te Anau Wildlife Centre‘ around here and you’ll find it means many different things to many different birds!

 

A pukeko. Photographed by Peter Harrison.

For pukeko the Te Anau Wildlife Centre is the place to be seen

For some birds, such as the Auckland Island teal, the Te Anau Wildlife Centre is their retirement home, providing a safe nurturing place where breakfast, lunch and tea are assured.

For others, such as the kea and kaka, it is a place of refuge following the loss of a parent at a young age or being the victim of a road accident.

For some birds, such as the pukeko and ducks, it is the place to see and be seen. They all have wings and could fly away… and sometimes they do, but they just can’t resist returning for those crunchy breakfast pellets and plenty of visitors to keep them amused!

And then there’s the takahē. These are one of New Zealand’s rarest birds and were once thought to be extinct. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre is home to ‘Hebe’ and ‘Monty’, retirees from the breeding programme, along with two parent takahē ‘Kawa’ and ‘Tumbles’, who each year are given a new chick to foster.

 

A takahe. Photographed by Br3nda on Flickr.

Ta Anau Wildlife Centre is home to some true takahē charcters

Over the summer visitors had the delight of meeting their chick ‘Tawa’. Her reputation grew for being a bird of distinction, who knew exactly what she wanted in life—and that was corn on the cob for breakfast!

Unfortunately for her, Tawa’s breakfast was not sweetcorn but specially designed pellets rich in all the things a captive takahe needs. The pukeko on the other hand would get a sweetcorn to keep him away from the pellets!

The video that follows is comedy gold as Tawa the takahē battles the pukeko for the corn on the cob breakfast.

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