First, Rhynochetos is this genus of this animal. Second, the Kagu is a bird, which might have thrown a few people off if they didn’t see the pictures. I don’t even remember how I stumbled onto this one.
The Kagu are found in the mountain forest of New Caledonia and there are only between 1,500 to 2,000 left in the wild. This is actually a rise in numbers after they got into the 250-375 range years ago. Clearly, these birds are highly endangered and the reasons are:
- Hunting for the European pet trade and museums.
- Invasive species such as cats, dogs, pigs, and rats. The first two ate the adults and the other two ate their eggs. New Caledonia actually had no mammals, except for bats, until outsiders introduced these species.
- Naturally occurring heavy metals in the soil. Populations in areas with this problem laid fewer eggs than those in areas with low heavy metal levels.
- Habitat destruction as usual.
So, what are these birds like? They are long-legged and look similar to egrets even though they’re in their own family. Kagu have large wings, but they are practically flightless. The wings are used to distract and scare off predators from attacking their babies. These wings also help with balance, which allows it to run really fast through the forest. This is part of the reason they are called ‘ghosts of the forests’ . . . Yeah, I know the Okapi has that nickname too. There can be multiple ghosts of the forest, especially if they have different territories.
Kagu only have one chick per year, which doesn’t help their population issues. Both parents are involved in raising the chick too. Kagu are very patient, which helps them with teaching their young how to survive. It also helps them with hunting as they will stand still waiting for prey for long periods of time before striking.
Let’s get to some Google Image pictures and videoes: