This evening we watched several Pukeko grazing on carrot weed roots in our paddocks, using use their strong red beaks to gouge the roots from the soil. We’ve taken special interest in one little family. Himself put up an electric fence around the nesting area to stop our inquisitive cattle from nosing amongst the grass that hides the nest.
I dared to snap a couple of photos of the nest before the mother bird hurried back. I counted four chicks and two unhatched eggs. There were originally eleven eggs. I guess a rat or stoat must have taken some eggs. I beat a retreat so she could tend to feeding her chicks.
This season, these birds have decimated the sweet corn crop in my vegetable garden. They efficiently stripped the husks and pecked the kernels from the cobs. Pukeko can be regarded with either irritation or amusement – depends on the situation. We have have observed Pukeko raid the nests of other birds. We’ve also watched noisy ground-aerial battles between Pukeko and the hawks that circle before attempting to swoop on the fledgling chicks. Screeching aggressive stubborn birds. But, on the other hand, Pukeko are often fondly viewed as character birds and feature in New Zealand stories or songs, design media and more recently, in advertisements. Enjoy these Youtube snippets filmed by other people showing Pukeko in different situations.