Takahē: Squawking from the tussocks

Department of Conservation —  17/06/2013

By Chris Phillips, Takahe Ranger at Burwood Bush Takahē Rearing Unit

A recent winter blast of heavy snow and rain meant a busy week at the Burwood Bush rearing unit in Te Anau.

Our takahē took it in their stride and were quick to take advantage of the extra takahē pellets we put out for them – irresistible takahē  tucker!

Three takahe munching on pellets.

Takahē tucking into their pellets

The water and snow have now receded uncovering damaged fences, drainways and crossings that all need attention.

Happy families of takahē wander round oblivious to all the stress and strain inflicted upon those who hold the prestigious honour of being their guardians.

A snowy blanket over the takahe rearing unit.

A winter blast paid a visit

Renegade takahē, Wal and George, continue to taunt us with their evasion tactics. We need to catch them so we can put them in quarantine prior to sending them off to their new home at Cape Sanctuary. It has been several weeks and so far our numerous attempts at capturing these wily characters have been unsuccessful.

Takahe ranger working in the snow.

Working hard in the snow and rain

Before each attempt we cunningly plan manoeuvres, pour over possible outcomes and counter moves and develop robust, supposedly takahē-proof strategies. So far though, we have been out witted and invariably left sitting in the tussock on empty transfer boxes weeping whilst Wal and George squawk triumphantly from somewhere safe in their 80 hectare kingdom.

Chris holding a takahe whilst Phil Marsh completes a health check and vaccination.

A health check and vaccination for this takahē


The flightless takahē is a unique bird, a conservation icon and a survivor. The takahē was once thought to be extinct, but was rediscovered in 1948. Even today, despite years of conservation effort, the takahē remains critically endangered.

The Department of Conservation Takahē Recovery Programme in partnership with Mitre10 Takahē Rescue is committed to ensuring the survival, growth and security of takahē populations throughout New Zealand.

4 responses to Takahē: Squawking from the tussocks

  1. 

    Love seeing this progress!

  2. 

    Great stuff Chris, keep up the good work!

  3. 

    I love it!! Those hardy birds just seem to look good in snow!

  4. 

    Kinda quite reassuring to know that even the experts are having trouble capturing these guys!Appreciating your frustrations nonetheless.Thanks for your wonderful work