6 super weird facts about takahē

Department of Conservation —  04/01/2023

Nothing’s worse than sharing a cool and interesting fact with someone, only to be met with the dull response of “I ALREADY KNEW THAT…”

Fact-shame your ‘know-it-all’ friends and whānau with this list of 6 super weird facts about takahē, that we thought you should probably know.

1. Takahē can poo up to nine metres in a day!

Yep, number one is a ‘number two’.

We’re starting our list off with poo!

What’s a DOC fact list without poo, right?!

Being vegetarian and feeding in their native grassland environment, habitats that are highly fibrous and have relatively low nutrient levels, mean that takahē spend most of their days grazing… Putting two and two together you would be right to assume that all of the above results in a high output of hamuti (poo)… After all, what goes in must come out.

Their hamuti collected and lined up from one day can reach up to and epic nine metres long!

!!Warning poo photo coming up!!

Takahē ‘number two’.
📷: DOC

2. Takahē will always bring a shiv to a fight

Equipped with sharp claws and exceptionally large and strong beaks, built for pulling tussock tillers out of the ground and fighting off predators, give takahē fair weaponry needed for most fights!

But takahē don’t fight fair.

Takahē fight dirty.

Takahē fight prison rules!

Concealed in their wings are handy yet ferocious wing spurs used as sneaky weapons to fight off predators and defend their territories from intruders!

They ‘shaw’ do have a ‘shank’ but you won’t find any redemption here, with weapons like these takahē would stay in prison for a long time!

Takahē spur photo.
📷: Julie Harvey

3. Takahē are social distancing pros.

While we’ve had to get our heads around phrases like ‘household bubbles’ and ‘social distancing’, takahē have been out there leading the way in this practice for ages!

Takahē home ranges are quite large and are often greater that 50 hectares in size. Last year’s chicks might stay with their parents, to help raise the next generation, but apart from that the parents will hold their territory to themselves.

They rarely visit neighbouring takahē households and always abide to social distancing rules… The fact that they take social distancing to the extreme is one of the reasons they are so endangered!

Takahē, Kapiti Island.
📷: James Reardon

4. Chick are black with white beaks

Most offspring bear some sort of resemblance to their parents but not takahē. Takahē chicks are black and fluffy with white beaks, when they first hatch – Couldn’t get any further away looking from the bright green-blue plumage of their parents.

By three months the chicks go through that ‘awkward-teen’ phase and get the takahē version of braces, acne, body odor and general awkwardness. Albeit not that extreme, they do go through a transition and start getting their first adult feathers. Colours are dull at first then their beaks and feathers become just as bright and beautiful as their parents.

5. Takahē are strictly vegetarians, except when they’re not…

You may have thought that takahē are strictly vegetarians, only eating grasses and seeds, but occasionally they reveal a flexitarian side, consuming things other than plant matter!

It’s known that parent takahē will often grub up insects to feed their young chicks, giving them an extra boost of protein to help their chicks grow big and strong. BUT this is not the only time takahē will reveal their flexitarian lifestyle choices to us though…

Occasionally, and only occasionally takahē will go CARNIVOUROUS!

Yes, I know it’s a lot to take in and I hope I haven’t burst your love-bubble for these amazing native birds, but takahē will occasionally eat meat and we can prove it!

Check out this video taken at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari of a takahē eating a sparrow!

6. Takahē have an amazing skill that is useless…

How can you have an amazing skill but somehow it is useless?!

Well, the ‘amazing skill’ part is that when feeling threatened takahē will freeze and camouflage with their surroundings. That’s pretty impressive considering they have bright and bold coloured feathers, contrasted with their dull and drab grassland environment.

‘Useless’ may be too harsh of a word but the ineffective part is that their freeze and camouflage skill was thought to be a response to their natural aerial predator, the now extinct Haast Eagle. Unfortunately, this skill today is as useful as a toddler’s “if-I-stand-really-still-and-close-my-eyes-you-can’t-see-me” manoeuvre, as introduced predators are scent-based hunters and can easily locate the best camouflaged takahē.

Ahh what a nice photo of some grassland tussocks… that’s all.

That wraps up our list of super weird facts. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and hopefully learned something new and interesting.

So the next time you catch up with friends and whānau you can drop these super weird facts on them and watch their minds blow!

P.S Takahē have made a comeback to the Air New Zealand in-flight safety video!

The safety video was a collaborative effort working closely with Treaty Partner Ngai Tahu and Fulton Hogan, our National Partner for the Takahē Recovery Programme.

10 responses to 6 super weird facts about takahē

    Catherine Allison 05/01/2022 at 9:56 pm

    Interesting and very well written, I am extra fond of them now I know they have flaws as well as ferocious claws.


    They look like Dodos. Probably their ancestor.

    Douglas McKeown 04/07/2021 at 2:12 pm

    Amazing info…..the mind boggles. Just as well they don’t use toilet paper!!!


      Dang I love our Takahē, I have them on my power coated balustrade with bell birds and Fantails its awesome


    Very interesting and informative facts, thank you

    Rachel Smith 17/06/2021 at 6:40 am

    So informative.
    Interesting to know facts.
    These birds are beautiful to watch. Spent days in their company at a reserve in the South Island.
    Thank you for sharing.


    What about takahe only mate with there 1 n only love once there partner is run ova or killed they never partner up again.


    This had me laughing & learning at the same time – nicely done!


    Interesting and nicely put

    du Toit Jackie 15/06/2021 at 1:59 pm

    I didn’t know all those facts! Very interesting and quite funny!