Rhynochetos jubatus
(Photo from Maya en Nouvelle Caledonie)

Common name:
kagu (en); cagu (pt); cagou huppé (fr); kagú (es); kagu (de)

Order Gruiformes
Family Rhynochetidae

This species is endemic to New Caledonia, in the south-west Pacific. They have a fragmented range, mostly being found in the Parc Provincial Rivière Bleue, in Province Sud an in the forests between Bourail and Thio.

These birds are 55 cm long and weigh around 900 g.

They are mostly found in humid forests, but also in drier forests and in close-canopy scrublands. They are present at altitudes of 100-1.400 m.

Kagus are carnivorous, hunting lizards, worms, snails, insects, spiders and centipedes in the forest floor.

These birds are monogamous, possibly mating for life. They breed in June-December, building a simple nest consisting of a heaped pile of leaves. The female lays a single grey egg with dark blotches, which is incubated by both parents for 33-37 days. The chick can leave the nest just 3 days after hatching, but is fed by the parents for 12-14 weeks. The chick may remain within the parental territory for several years and even help defend this territory. Each pair raises a single chick per year.

IUCN status – EN (Endangered)
The kagu has a very restricted and fragmented breeding range and the global population is estimated at just 850-1.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable, although it may be increasing in the southern parts of its range and declining in the northern parts. The main threat to this species is the predation by introduced dogs, cats and rats. Feral pigs may also take some eggs and the introduced Rusa deer Cervus timorensis is severely damaging the forests where kagus live. Habitat loss and degradation caused by mining, logging and fires are also a problem for this species.

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