Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus
NATIVE. COMMON. RESIDENT.
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread throughout the lowlands of the North and South Islands. They also occurs on many Pacific islands, in Australia and across southern Asia, Europe and Africa.
HABITAT: Found in the margins of well-vegetated swamps and lagoons, especially those near cultivated land.
BREEDING: Breeding may extend from August to February but peak activity is from September to December. The nests are well hidden and are a deep bowl of woven marsh vegetation. 5-6 eggs make up a typical clutch and incubation takes about 23-24 days, with chicks fledging at about 85 days. Both parents build, incubate and rear chicks and are often assisted by other adults.
FOOD: Mostly seeds, shoots, and corms of aquatic plants but will also eat aquatic insects, frogs, carrion, stranded fish and occasionally the eggs and chicks of other birds.
VOICE: Most calls are loud, strident and monosyllabic, the most common being a ringing raucous screech.
GENERAL: Pukeko are a very characteristic bird of Canterbury swamplands. They have an intricate social structure involving a system of ranking where birds low in the ‘pecking-order’ seldom breed and are often confined to marginal habitat. Seldom do they move habitat unless forced by food shortages or changing water levels. Farmers and market gardeners consider the Pukeko a pest.