Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London/part 15/Notes on some rare Birds of New Zealand and Australia

Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, part 15
Notes on some rare Birds of New Zealand and Australia by Frederick Strange

5. Notes on some rare Birds of New Zealand and Australia.

By Mr. F. Strange, in a letter to John Gould, Esq., F. R. S. etc.

"Strigops habroptilus, G. R. Gray.—The Ka-ka-po, or Night Parrot of the New Zealanders, is an inhabitant of the western side of the Middle island, and like the Kiwi-kiwi or Apteryx is strictly nocturnal in its habits, and never leaves its retreat during the day; its usual place of resort consists of burrows, formed by itself, beneath the roots of large trees or under immense pieces of rock, whence they cannot, even by the natives, be easily dug out. Its food consists of fern-roots, which it digs up with its bill, and the outer covering of the leaves of flax, which it obtains by drawing the leaves between the mandibles and leaving the flax behind. They are not gregarious, more than two never being found together, except a pair of young ones, which appear to stop with the old birds until they have attained the size of their parents. This is one of the birds the natives set great store by, the head being cut off, strung by the nostrils, and worn in the ears on their grand feast-days. It is known to the sealers by the name of the Green Bird of New Zealand.

"Apteryx Australis.—Kiwi-kiwi of the New Zealanders. I am told that a second species of Apteryx is to be found on the Middle island, that it stands about three feet high; it is called by the sealers the Fireman. Aware, from your figures and description, that the sexes differ considerably in size, I pointed this out to my informant; but he still persisted that there are two species, in confirmation of which opinion he added, that he had taken the eggs of the two birds, and found those of one species to be much larger than those of the other. The larger kind are nearly the size of the Emu's; they are somewhat long in form and blunt at the ends; their colour is a dirty white. They are deposited in a burrow on a nest formed of roots and sticks, and a few of the bird's own feathers.

"Scythrops Novæ Hollandiæ.—I send you the egg of this species, and also the female bird out of which it was taken, after she had received two shots."