Kagu

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The kagu or cagou (Rhynochetos jubatus) is a crested, long-legged, and bluish-grey bird endemic to the dense mountain forests of New Caledonia. It is the only surviving member of the genus Rhynochetos and the family Rhynochetidae, although a second species has been described from the fossil record. Measuring 55 cm (22 in) in length, it has pale grey plumage and bright red legs. Its ‘nasal corns’ are a unique feature not shared with any other bird. Almost flightless, it spends its time on or near the ground, where it hunts its invertebrate prey, and builds a nest of sticks on the forest floor. Both parents share incubation of a single egg, as well as rearing the chick. It has proven vulnerable to introduced predators, and is threatened with extinction.

The kagu is endemic to the forests and shrubland of New Caledonia. Within that island group it is restricted to the main island of Grande Terre. There is no evidence that it occurred on the Loyalty Islands, although fossil remains of the extinct lowland form R. orarius have been found on the Ile des Pines. The kagu is a habitat generalist and able to exist in a range of different forest types if sufficient prey is present, from rain forest to drier lowland forest. They are also able to feed in some drier shrubland associated with the island’s ultrabasic rocks, although not in the low-prey, poor shrubland of this type. They are also absent from areas where extensive ground cover makes foraging difficult, such as grassland or areas with high fern cover, but may pass through such areas to reach other foraging areas. The species has undergone some range contraction due to hunting and predation by introduced species. Its original, pre-human distribution, and the extent to which it and its sister species R. orarius coexisted in lowland areas of New Caledonia, is still not fully understood and awaits further research into the subfossil record. source

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  1. Arul.T says:

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