Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) are a long-legged, white bird which are blue-grey crest. They are a species of nearly flightless birds and are known to be ground-living. From fossil records, they are known as the second specials left that come after the Gruiform (order Gruiformes).
Kagu's are a crested flightless bird (that are also a gruiform bird) and they are famous in New Caledonia for their grey-white feathers, long red legs and bills. A kagu's feather powder downs mean the tips of their feathers disintigrate over time, but waterproof the rest of their feathers. These powder downs help them to survive New Caledonia's extreme tropical climate, as New Caledonia is where these birds tend to make their habitat.
The genus name Rhynochetos, and the family name Rhynochetidae, are derived from the Greek words Rhis which means 'nose' and chetos meaning 'corn', which together means a corn-shaped nose. Fitting with the meaning, kagu's have corn-shaped noses, as well as flaps on their sides. These make up key features of the bird itself. The word jabatus is a Latin word that means 'crested'. All of these things make up the unique features of a kagu.
Here on our page, we have lots of interesting facts on the kagu species that you will definitely enjoy. Let's have a look at these facts. If you like these facts then do read our bowerbird and harpy eagle facts.
What do they prey on?
Worms, lizards and snails
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
1.5-2.4 lb (700-1100 g)
How long are they?
22 in (55 cm)
How tall are they?
2 ft (0.6 m)
What do they look like?
Bluish-grey and white
What are their main threats?
Humans, cats, dogs, deer, and forest destruction
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Kagu Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a kagu?
Kagus (Rhynochetos jubatus) are introduced as almost flightless birds who are endemic to the New Caledonia mountains and forest. They are the only surviving species left of the family Rhynochetidae and genus Rhynochetos.
What class of animal does a kagu belong to?
Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) is a bird species who belong to the class of Aves.
How many kagus are there in the world?
Kagus are listed as an Endangered species of bird. According to scientific reports, there are only 600 to 1,000 kagus left in the world and their number is getting lesser and lesser every day, making them extremely vulnerable to Extinction.
Where does a kagu live?
Kagu birds are the only species left of the family of Rhynochetidae birds. Their population is endemic to the dense mountains of New Caledonia. The kagu population are also usually seen near the municipality area park in Canada known as 'Rivière-Bleue'. They are flightless birds who spend most of their life on the forest floor where they make their habitat and patiently hunt their prey.
What is a kagu's habitat?
Kagus (Rhynochetos jubatus) are rare birds found in an unusual habitat, especially when compared to other bird species. Only a handful of the birds are left and they are only found in the dense forest and mountains of New Caledonia. They like to remain on the ground of the forest and make their nests on piles of leaf litter, where they eventually lay their eggs during breeding season.
Who do kagus live with?
Kagus are monogamous breeders which means they have the same breeding partner, or mate, throughout the most of their life. They tend to stay in their habitat, and outside of the breeding season, the male and female birds temporarily split up their family and wander alone for a few days before returning home together.
How long does a kagu live?
Kagus have a long lifespan. They can live up to 20 to 30 years of natural age unless they die in an accident or are killed by their predators. Throughout their life, they live with the same mate and come into the category of monogamous breeders.
How do they reproduce?
Kagus mate for life, and usually keep a single mate. The breeding season of kagus is from June to December. During that time the unmated kagus will perform a display by raising their head crest in a plume and spreading their wings which attract their future mates. When the two potential breeding partners come together, they perform a courtship dance by circling around each other continuously which usually ends with a mating performance. Then, the mated pair of kagus will make their nest in the forest floor with dry leaves (leaf litter) where the female lays a single egg. Both pairs of the small family will take turns to sit on the egg. The incubation period of a kagu egg is between 32 to 35 days and after that, the egg will hatch, and a young chick is born.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of the kagu bird species is listed as Endangered by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 as there are only 600 to 1,000 kagus left and their population is drastically decreasing. The decline in their number started back in the 1900s when predation by invasive species took place. Now, they are on the verge of Extinction due to their fall in numbers, but lots of conservation efforts are taking place to try and get these birds off the Endangered species list.
Kagu Fun Facts
What do kagus look like?
Kagu birds have a very unique and unusual look for a bird. Kagus are a rare and flightless bird with gray and white pearl-like feathers. They have long red legs and a red bill with bright red eyes. Their head is shaped in a crest-like fashion, similar to a cockatoo bird. A kagu also has bold stripes on the tips of their wings. Their wings are gray in color with dark and brownish spots, they are also covered in dark spots which they use to grain attraction during the courting process. Although their wings look way too perfect, kagus can not fly and they stay on the ground throughout their lifetime.
How cute are they?
Kagus are cute and adorable little birds. Their gray and white feathers are very attractive and their long legs really stand out. On an island in New Caledonia, it is fashionable to have a kagu as a pet as they are considered the emblem of the territory and therefore are looked to as a very important and symbolic bird there.
How do they communicate?
The sounds made by male and female kagus are different. Their sounds are similar to barking and crowing at the same time. They make hissing and soft chuckling sounds to communicate with each other. They also communicate by singing early in the morning and performing duets. A zoologist once described this morning duet as a 'screaming challenge' between the two kagu birds.
How big is a kagu?
Kagus are a small and unique bird species that is 22 in (55 cm) long and 2 ft (0.6 m) tall. Although they are small birds, they are still ten times bigger than some lizards which means they tend to prey on lizards. A kagu is the only surviving species of the family Rhynochetidae and genus Rhynochetos..
How high can a kagu fly?
Kagus are flightless birds which means they cannot fly. They have perfect wings like all other birds, but lack the musculature which helps the bird in flight. Unlike other flightless birds, the kagu does not have smaller and shorter wings, they actually have perfect size wings as these help the kagus when they are moving quickly through the forests. They can also glide using their wings when in danger.
How much does a kagu weigh?
The weight of a kagu varies between males and females. But the average weight of a kagu can be 1.5-2.4 lb (700-1100 g). Their weight also changes through the seasons.
What are the male and female names of the species?
There are no different names for the male and female species of the kagu. Hence, different names are not mentioned. But the other name in which kagus are known is Cagou or Rhynochetos jubatus.
What would you call a baby kagu?
The baby kagu or a young kagu is known as a 'chick'. The young chicks are brown in color with downy feathers. Both the parents take care of the chick and feed it with small insects and earthworms. Within three days, the chick starts walking slowly and slowly away from the parents and nest. And within six weeks, the young chick will grow up and begin roosting in the night as the parent kagus do. They even start to assist their parents in caring for their siblings.
What do they eat?
Kagus are carnivores, which means they prefer preying on small animals like snails, lizards, and worms. Their major diet consists of these small animals, but they also feed on larvae, spiders, centipedes, grasshoppers, beetles, and bugs. When a young kagus start eating, the parents feed them and teach them to hunt small insects like worms and grasshoppers. That is, until they grow up and can hunt for their food themselves.
Are they friendly?
Whether they are friendly or not is subjective, but they are considered lucky on the island of New Caledonia, and the people living there do have kagus as pets. They are mostly friendly if we pet and communicate with them from a young age. Despite this, petting a wild kagu is not generally advised.
Would they make a good pet?
For the New Caledonian island people, it is fashionable to have a kagu as a pet as they find them very lucky for the region. Kagus can be good pets if they are embraced from a young age. They are calm in nature and are not aggressive, so they are not considered dangerous for humans.
Did you know...
A kagu has large eyes in which they have binocular vision, this helps them find their prey in the leaf litters and dense forests.
Kagus are the only bird who carry a unique feature called 'nasal corns', which differs from other birds.
The native people of the island named kagu the 'ghost of the forests' and kagu are considered the New Caledonia territory's national bird.
What links the cassowary kakapo and the kagu?
A cassowary kakapo is an owl parrot, who, like a kagu, is a large and flightless bird. The cassowary kakapo also has perfect wings like a normal bird, but their muscles lack the ability to fly, just like kagus.
Why is the kagu so important?
Kagus are a significantly important bird in New Caledonia because it is considered a high-profile emblem. Their survival in New Caledonia is vital as they think they are the country's image and bring a good economy to the territory. The song that the kagu sings in the early morning is recorded and played every night by the island's people as the national song of the territory. This is why the kagu species is so important for New Caledonia's people and why they want to save these birds. A lot of effort is being put into the conservation of this bird, but there is always more to be done.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including shoebill, or golden pheasant.
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