Local Heart, Global Soul

March 29, 2018

Lost Forever…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the top station of Christchurch gondola, there are many informational displays.

This one is all about the many unique species of New Zealand birds who became extinct after mankind entered their environment.

I’ve posted the text, plus photographs as best I could because there was a lot of sunlight and reflection, making these shots particularly tricky.

“Over 80 million years ago, many extraordinary birds existed in New Zealand’s lush rainforests.

They were completely isolated from the outside world. The lack of predators enabled the birds to develop various levels of flightlessness, ground feeding and nesting.

The first Maori settlers arrived 700 years ago and together with introduced predators the impact on bird life was devastating.

Within a few hundred years, 40% of New Zealand’s terrestrial birds were destroyed. A total of 58 different species of birds were lost forever…”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“The Moa was the tallest bird ever to live on our planet with the top of it’s back measuring 6 feet above the ground. The ten species of Moa were diverse with a wide range of habitats and sizes. The Little Bush Moa was the size of a turkey, however the Giant Moa measured up to 3 metres. The Moa was hunted to extinction by the first human inhabitants exterminating the Moa during the 13th and 14th century, a period of only one hundred years.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Haast’s Eagle. This was the world’s largest eagle, with a wingspan of up to 3 metres. It had huge claws measuring over 6 centimetres, with the horny claw extending another 3 centimetres. The species was unique in it’s ability to take prey 10 or even 20 times it’s own body mass. They were specialised bird eaters capable of attacking the largest herbivores in the environment – the Moa. The Haast’s Eagle died out with the extinction of the Moa.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Laughing Owl. This bird was given it’s name because it sounded like someone laughing. The Laughing Owl was twice the size as the remaining owl – the Morepork. The owl had a strong talons and feet, enabling it to kill tuatara, kiwi, ducks and even baby seals. This nocturnal bird of prey was found throughout New Zealand until it went into decline in the mid 1800’s. It was declared extinct in 1914, with the last specimen found in Canterbury.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“The Huia. The act of “putting a feather in a hat” led to the demise of this wonderful bird. The Huia had a beautiful bright orange wattle at the end of it’s ivory beak and a white band of tail feathers. This bird was unique in that the female had a distinguishing long curved beak. This all changed when the Prince of York returned from New Zealand with a Huia feather in his hat and created a fashion sensation in Europe. Consequently, the bird was hunted to extinction in 1907.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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