Takahē Behaviour

Living in a challenging environment, these unique birds have developed some distinctive traits. Learn how a takahē behaves in its alpine home.

 

Staying in touch

Takahē pairs stay in constant contact with each other and rarely stray more than 100m apart. They also spend time grooming each other.

Listen to the takahē duet

Similarly parents and chicks constantly call to each other to stay in contact.  If threatened, adult takahē will ‘stash’ a young chick under a tussock or bush before moving apart to lure the threat away from the chick.
Takahe. Photo: R Curtis

Periscopes up!

The takahē has a ponderous gait with its head down when searching about for food. To keep an eye on its surroundings or when something attracts its attention its head comes up out of the tussock like a periscope looking around for the source of disturbance.

Takahē have also been known to climb up onto the top of small shrubs to inspect their surroundings.

 

The takahē ‘whoomph’

When a takahē is alarmed it lets out a resonating ‘whoomph’ as a warning. Unlike the other takahē calls the ‘whoomph’ is a non-directional sound, making it difficult to identify where the takahē is hiding.

 

Seek shelter and stay calm

A takahē responds to threats from the air by running for a short distance before freezing under the shelter of a tussock or shrub. Prior to the arrival of humans, when the main threats were avian predators, freezing and blending into the tussocks was a good strategy, but it doesn’t work very well against introduced predators like stoats or ferrets.

 

Tunnels under the snow

When the tussocks and shrubs are blanketed in light layers of snow takahē become expert tunnellers and continue feeding using a network of tunnels under the snow.

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