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Backpack New Zealand > Articles > Fauna & Flora > Birds > Weka



Latin name: Gallirallus australis
Subspecies: North Island, Western, Stewart Island, Buff
Category: Endemic (only found in New Zealand)
Status: Threatened / Common - rare in the North Island
Size: 53cm
Weight:1000/700 g
Characteristics: Flightless, rail, fast runner
Habitat: Forest, scrub
Nests: On the ground in short burrows, hollow logs, under plants
Food: Worms, snails, insects, seeds, fruit, eggs, small birds, lizards, rats, mice
Lifespan: 15 years

The inquisitive weka is a comical bird, often seen hanging around huts trying to bludge some food. They have a bad reputation of stealing shinny objects as a building material for their nest.

Like the pigeon they have an incredible homing ability. Some weka's from Gisborne were released in the Waitakere Ranges, one of the birds was found at Taneatua (300 km away) and on course for Gisborne.

They were hunted by Maori and Europeans for food and oil. South Island Maori also used their skins to make cloaks.

Threats: Cats, dogs, ferrets, eggs eaten by rats, habitat loss, competition for fruits with introduced species, caught in pest traps and baiting stations.

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