DESCRIPTION FAMILY RHYNOCHETIDAE
The Kagu is the surviving member of the monotypic family Rhynochetidae, order Eurypygiformes.
Initially placed in Ardeidae family, the Kagu shows almost similar plumage. It also performs similar behaviour while feeding in shallow water, motionless, standing upright on one leg.
Endemic species to New Caledonia, the Kagu is a flightless bird, but it is able to use its wings, in order to assist some movements such as to climb into branches, or to glide in the air during descents. But its wings play their most important role in threat or courtship behaviours. At this moment, the Kagu displays the black and white underwing pattern, in order to threaten predators or to court the female.
The Kagu is an agile bird, able to run fast to escape, or to travel some distance over various types of terrains.
During the breeding season, the pair produces only one chick, protected by its cryptic plumage when at nest, because this one is built on the ground. Then, the young bird reaches its adult plumage at two / three years of age.
Its beautiful pale grey colours, its reddish bill and legs, and its dark red eyes, give to this bird superb appearance.
Unfortunately, this species is endangered, even being well protected. Let us wish that conservation programs and full protection in New Caledonia allow this species to enchant us by its elegant silhouette and its particular displays.
Photograph by Patrick Ingremeau
Text by Nicole Bouglouan
HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Volume 3 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions, 1996, 821 pages - ISBN : 8487334202