The Glaucopis cinerea, or Crow, of the Middle Island, is rarely found below an altitude of two or three thousand feet, and indeed, is found in greatest numbers at and above the higher of these altitudes, in the glens of the Fagus forest.

I am inclined to think these birds pair for life, as they are almost invariably found in couples at all seasons of the year. They are extremely active, hopping with long strides along the ground, and from branch to branch, in their search for insects. Their chief food, however, consists of sow–thistle and other succulent herbs, and it is remarkable that, in eating such substances, they hold them with the fist precisely as a parrot holds its food, tearing off and swallowing large fragments.

The note of this bird is wonderfully sweet and plaintive, and, during the breeding season, its song is one of the most varied and beautiful of all New Zealand’s birds. It appears, however, always to be pitched in a minor key. The male birds are very pugnacious, fighting, whenever they meet, with the greatest determination. They are still numerous in the forests adjoining the station, but I fear wild cats are likely to clear them out within a few years.

Sub Species:

Song of the:  —  Kokako

 McPherson Natural History Unit

Other common names:  — 

Orange wattled crow, Glaucopis cinerea cinerous wattle bird.

Description:  — 

Extinct bird

South Island kokako may soon become officially extinct. The Department of Conservation has changed its status from “nationally critical” to “extinct” in its recent draft of the triennial review of the status of New Zealand’s wildlife. Rod Hitchmough, species protection officer at Doc’s biodiversity recovery unit has said that it has not been seen since the 1960s although a feather was found on Stewart Island in 1987. It is possible it may survive in low numbers in remote parts of the South Island and Stewart Island. Rhys Buckingham (a well–known New Zealand ornithologist) and others have not given up their passionate and almost life–long search to find the South Island Kokako, distinguished by its bright orange wattles.

Where to find:  — 

More Information:  — 

Kokako  (Blue wattled crow — main page)

Poetry:  — 

Orange Wattled Kokako

Orange Wattled One
how anxiously we wait
to hear your song
not to sink as cast–off
into the unknown
glassed birds cannot feast on coprosma berries,
they only sing their ghost songs
for so long,
blue wattled brothers rare concertos
transpiring through
towering canopies of a rich green hue
they warn the ghosts of Huia not to emerge
until it is very,

 — Sarah Watson Nawaz

Illustration description: — 


Buller, Walter Lawry, Birds of New Zealand, 1873.

Latham, John, A General Sysnopsis of Birds, 1795.

Reference(s): — 


Travers, W.T.L., F.L.S., Notes on the habits of some of the birds of New Zealand, Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume,IV, 1871. The notes were “chiefly compiled from observations made during periodical visits to my cattle station at Lake Guyon, in the Nelson Province.... Lake Guyon occupies a depression in a mountain ridge lying between valleys of the Waiau-ua, and of its tributary the Stanley, and has been formed by a deposit of a large moraine at the end of the depression furthest from the valley of the Waiau, which dams in the waters flowing through this depression. These waters, which formerly ran into the Stanley, now flow out of the lake over a rocky barrier on the Waiau side, considerably lower than the moraine at the other end. Although situated at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level, this lake is never frozen over, and, even during the severest winters, its waters preserve a remarkable degree of warmth.”

Page date & version: — 


Thursday, 22 August 2019; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.