Bird of the month: The weka
The New Zealand weka is a small flightless bird that could be confused for a kiwi to the untrained eye. This month, we’ve chosen the weka as our bird of the month!
Here’s a little more about this sweet little bird that will help you learn more about it and perhaps even identify one if you see a weka in the wild.
This fantastic native species can be found in sub-alpine grassland areas, forests, sand dunes and even rocky shore areas around the coastline. They’re known to have cheeky natures, and will take the chance to steal food and/or shiny objects from you if you’re not careful.
As mentioned, the weka can look similar to the iconic kiwi. While they are shades of brown, small and flightless, the main giveaways are their size as they are larger than the kiwi, and their beaks, as they are short unlike the kiwi. And in fact, they are much closer to the banded rail species, which is considered their closest relative.
You might hear one before you see one, as they have a characteristic ‘coo-eet’ call that you’ll usually hear at dawn then again half an hour after sunset.
There are a number of spots around New Zealand where you might see a weka in the wild, such as on the Russell Peninsula, in Kawakawa Bay, in the Marlborough Sound, in Fiordland and on a number of islands around the country. They face threats such as predation and droughts and are listed as being ‘nationally vulnerable’.
Finally, the weka will eat pretty much anything it can find! This includes everything from insects and slugs to lizards, mice, small birds as well as berries and seeds.
As the weka don’t live around Auckland, we don’t tend to see them on our nature tours. However, you will still see plenty of other exciting New Zealand birds on a Tawharanui tour from Auckland!
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist