Kokako sightings summary
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South Island kokako reports
1990 -2012
Category 1: Close sighting (within 10m with a naked eye or equivalent) of a bird fitting the general description of the SIK AND wattles at the base of the bill clearly observed (minimum wattle sighting of 3 seconds).
Category 2: Sighting of a bird fitting the general description of the SIK AND wattles at the base of the bill observed but not meeting Cat 1 criteria (for proximity to bird or duration of wattle observation).
OR: Sighting of a bird fitting the general description of the SIK within moderate range (20m) where defining behaviour is observed. Defining behaviour is restricted to (a) running along branches or logs (b) large hops or leaps or (c) kokako jizz seen by an experienced kokako observer.
Category 3: Any other sighting of a bird the observer believes may be a SIK but not meeting Cat 1 or Cat 2 criteria. The observation must be consistent with the general description of the SIK and is generally associated with unusual calls or behaviour.
Reports maphttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_UWdOUDlHRFU2UnM/edit?usp=sharing
Database compiled by Richard Stocker (rv.stocker@gmail.com) & Alec Milne (alecmilne.nz@gmail.com)
Thanks to Ron Nilsson & Rhys Buckingham for some of the source material
Last updated: 1/10/2012
Please contact us for any corrections, additions, new reports or any queries
11/01/19901BullerLake MatiriHead of lakeTwo birds hopped from tree to a nearby log where they began picking at moss. Described as at least twice the size of robins, but similar colour and proportions. Estimated size; 8-10" from top of head to ground, 5" width. Bluey-grey plumage, and wattles distinctly seen. Colour of wattle yellow on one bird and more orange on the other. One seemed to have slightly larger wattles. There seemed to be a slight size difference between the birds too. Bill slightly curved at tip. Relatively long legs. Wing looked relatively short (didn't protude backwards like e.g. blackbird). Tip of wing rounded, not pointed. Noted that birds hopped rather than ran along ground. Hops of about 2–3" in length. Hopped on to rotten log about 3 m away, and picked at moss for about 5–10 minutes. Flicked moss off using a sideways motion of bill. The bill was inserted vertically into the moss, then the moss prised loose with a sideways flick. This was very distinct. Each dislodged clump of moss was about 2–3 times the size of a 50 cent coin. The birds were described as curious and confiding. Gordon Appleton1544480538933955+ minuteshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_X0JSM0R6NGhic1U/edit?usp=sharing
21/1/19921Central WestlandTaipo Riveradjacent trackA south island kokako came right down to the tree next to us on the trackJenny Walton14705815265150< 103+https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_NWE4cldIcnF3dWs/edit?usp=sharing
7510/24/19961South WestlandWhataroa RiverAbut Headbird fossicking through scrubby growth about 7metres away in the area known as the peninsula. As he focussed his binoculars on the spot a bird’s head popped into view. In sharp focus he clearly observed a sky blue wattle on the right side of the birds head for perhaps 2-3 secondsBarry Donovan138002952228867m (through binoculars)3 secondshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_OGVyZV85NjRka0E/edit?usp=sharing
701/01/19971SE OtagoCatlins RiverCatlins RiverDetailed description of unidentified bird seen and heard. About 1.5–2 times larger than tui (about size of homing pigeon), seen on branch of large beech tree drooping out into river, Wisp end of Catlins River Track. Made loud repeated call like an alarm. Ran out like a pheasant along branch, then flew about 3-5 m across river to another tree. Very noisy crashing into tree on other side. Then glided back into original tree, making loud raucous call as though distressed. Shortly afterwards disappeared; thought to have flown to ground. Plumage described as rough, uniform lilac–greyish blue. Feather fell out in flight over river. Pale coloured wattles noted—thought to be yellow in colour. The tail seemed relatively long, at least compared to pigeon.Peter Miller1326727485327210 - 20 m45 secondshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_UklTRGhaLTVGY1E/edit?usp=sharing
7615/03/19971MarlboroughWaikawa StreamPicton - in a garden -near the mouth of Waikawa StreamKokako seen at close quarters, slaty grey, electric blue wattles, climbing on tree - seen from 3m for 2 minutesKim Coutts168694854308133m2+minhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_ZDJEWXBZdlJaN2c/edit?usp=sharing
811/06/19971N.W. NelsonParapara RidgeParapara RidgeDark-coloured bird, parrot-like appearance, with lumps of orange around face. Bigger than a tui. Squawking loudly. (wattles inferred)M.Southern157362554824084m1minhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_SXNNZTVOa1RGazg/edit?usp=sharing
8223/06/19971MarlboroughWaikawa StreamPicton - in a garden - near the mouth of Waikawa Streamit was only about 20 feet away from me and yes the blue wattles was very clear,time wise it was a lot longer than 3secsVivien Coutts168694854308137-10m5-10minhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_OFEwaGdjYjNTQ0U/edit?usp=sharing
Marlborough Sounds
Tennyson InletDeep BayUnidentified bird larger and bulkier than tui, had pale wattles under "chin". Wattle colour described as either cream or yellow. General plumage colour not certain because of light, but seemed to be dull, dark-green on backRoss Nicholson1664844545314930m thru bimoc1inhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_YTUzNUxDWFZoU1E/edit?usp=sharing
711/01/20001FiordlandWairaurahiri RiverObserved by elderly man on a boat near the outlet of river on a commercial jet boat operationTwo large grey birds with orange wattlesObserver does not want to be identified from Johan Groters (Wairaurahiri Jet Ltd)1154259486142510 m>3sechttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_VE0yaTJqUUZXSjQ/edit?usp=sharing
2201/1/20031Marlborough SoundsMahau sound near Sherrington Grange lodgeThe most obvious thing was the bright orange wattles on the side of its faceLisa Harper167520154353833-4 m3 minshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_RmlHNFFubnEyUlE/edit?usp=sharing
17615/10/20061SouthlandWaimahaka BushFortification HillTwo grey birds, one with orange around head, other pink, bounced through branches - eerie "tooting" calls heard before the birds were seen - birds seen for approx 20 seconds (wattles inferred)Wayne Clare129045748425054-7 m20 + secondshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_QVRKSjdlN3hyTG8/edit?usp=sharing
15921/03/20071BullerInangahua River Rainy RiverHaunting call, bird seen with orange/blue wattles - 10m for 30 seconds, moss grubbingLen Turner1509912532904710 - 12m 30 secondshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_bHp6aXVTY1pJNzQ/edit?usp=sharing
1634/02/20081N.W. NelsonArthur RangeThe TwinsExperienced observer having worked in the NI with kokako, identified bird as kokako as it flew past him, landed on a branch 40 m away, identified wattles thru 7x rifle scope. Sun was bad to get colours but wattles clearly seen.Dougal Satherley156801654308307 - 40 m thru 7x scope2 -3 minuteshttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_VTJUOFJnajdadVE/edit?usp=sharing
22310/1/19942KarameaOpararaface of hill behind farmland in the Oparara valleyThe wattles below the bill were distinct, not yellow or orange rather a light grey or straw colour.Barry Chalmers15285045437691
371/10/19942MarlboroughPictonPicton ReserveAn unusual bird seen on track to the west of Bellbird Motels in Picton. From a quick glimpse the bird "looked like a skinny pullit—about the same size—and was a chalky grey blue in colour." …"moving rapidly over the ground with an awkward loping run …"B.Coutts (Mrs)16851585428954
5323/12/19952N.W. OtagoRouteburn River200m before bridge over Sugar Loaf Stream on Routeburn TrackDark grey bird with orange wattles - seen from 20m near the groundCagan Sekercioglu12252785038103
6727/10/19962BullerGlenroy RGlenroy RBrief sighting of presumed kokako at about 1300 hrs, 30–40 minutes after hearing a single kokako-like song. The bird was larger than a tui, grey in colour, and its tail was notably long in proportion to its body (c.f. tui). It was seen walking in a leisurely gait down the branch of a large beech tree. It seemed to be feeding on honeydew, or perhaps gleaning for insects. After a few seconds it flipped upside-down, and continued walking/feeding in this mode on the underside of the branch. While turning over, the fan-shaped detail of its tail was apparent, and the light caught the grey colour of its plumage. Just before disappearing behind the trunk of the beech tree, the bird paused, and lifted its head so that for the first time it was side-on to my view. It was then that I could confirm the bird to be a kokako by the features of its bill and face, particularly by its pale-coloured wattle. The light was not good enough, however, to determine the colour of this wattle. The sighting was not altogether chance. An hour or so prior to this, I had found an extensive area (150 x 150 m) of fresh moss grubbing sign on the forest floor. After playing a tape recorded call of juvenile North Island kokako (Pueora SF 1987) at this site, I heard soon after a loud call composed of crystal-clear "liquid" notes I presumed to be made by a kokako. This call, quite unlike any tui call I had heard in the vicinity, was very similar to a sequence of notes heard and tape recorded in the Mount Anglem branch of the Freshwater River, Stewart Island, in 1984. The sighting was at about 100 m distance from where I heard the call.R Buckingham15444005389149https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_ZU12YWRfanlkYWc/edit?usp=sharing
1631/05/19972South WestlandWhataroa RiverAbuts Headdark bird flew past about 3-4 m away I caught a glimpse of a blue wattleBarry Donovan13800295222886
921/12/19972North WestlandInangahua RBranch CreekTwo loud, "startling" calls alerted observer to two birds near the forest edge at a carpark 200 m east of Branch River bridge. The closer bird, said to be larger than a tui, was seen to have a yellow area on side of face. They were then heard calling quietly to each other. Observer noted gliding flight. Claimed to be familiar with tui, and had not heard tui make these kind of calls. Weather overcast with misty rain, thus viewing conditions dark and poor. My suggestion = possible kaka. Open beech forest in area, and no sign of moss disturbance. No response to tape playback. (wattles inferred)Gina Boffelman15122015328286https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_VWZ5YkhqY1dBMUk/edit?usp=sharing
931/02/19982South WestlandJackson BayOkuru R(road)Through foliage, a bird, about the size of a tui, browny/black in colour, with an orange wattle was seen. Visibility not perfect, not viewed through binoculars, and no feather colour details noted. Suggested might have been saddleback, but RB suggests young tui with pollen around face.Dave Grose12685295127859
3096/30/19982N.W. NelsonMt Arthur RangeBetween Baton Saddle and Mt Arthurbird hopping along branch with grey plumage and blue wattleC/o Bernard Smith15682065433959
9915/09/19982North WestlandCharlestonLimestone Road.blue-grey plumage, being larger than a tui, with face wattles (blue on one individual and orange on the otherDan McKinnon (ex Timberlands foreman)14725995352467https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_MWtueXdrU1pDenc/edit?usp=sharing
10025/10/19982North WestlandOparara RiverAdams ClearingBird seen with yellow marks about head. Thumping and squealing calls (wattles inferred)Phil Youngson 15341415439100
1221/10/20002North WestlandReefton
Upper Inangahua River
her she said the bird had a defined black band around the eyes but the wattles were not as orange as the photoDawn Kennedy15122325328846https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7KldLmFQ8d_UmZtWkRKTkpiR0k/edit?usp=sharing
1234/01/20002Eastern MarlboroughKekerengu River
along the back boundary of the Station (adjacent to the “Isolated Hill” D.O.C. Reserve)
Bird seen with orange wattles Seen from horsebackAinsley Green16818915362140
2271/1/20012OtagoQueenstown12 Mile Creek (Bobs Gully)slatey colour, (not blue) bright yellow wattles, watched for 10 minutes about 20 m awayJohn Turnbull12478665001243
14415/04/20032FiordlandWaitutu ForestLong Point, forest near owner's hutKokako seen with orange wattlesMr Shields11460234860725
2241/1/20042BullerMaruia12 k on Springs Junction side of Maruia Villagegrey bird, larger than a blackbird, smaller than a magpie, flew across drive , landing in a beech tree then  ran along  branch like a 4-legged animalBob Greer15352455319652
3328/03/20042North WestlandOparara RiverFennian Creek / Adams ClearingBird seen, dark blue, flashes of pink about head (wattles inferred)Lynn Dunlop 15317825438650
15115/04/20042FiordlandBack Valley500m north of Back Valley hut on edge of swamp- an excellent reportOrange wattles, hooked beak, dark colour, seen clearly from 30m, looping flightNigel Brooks11771354936547
16027/11/20052N.W. NelsonBurgoo StreamXenicus BasinGrey bird, orange at base of bill, semi-erect tail, seen to hop 5 times (wattles inferred).Alec Milne15588015455900
1587/03/20072CanterburyNina River20 min from SH car parkBlue/grey bird, hopped and bounded, unusual movementsJim Greeks 15514855472153
2283/22/20072BullerInangahua River Rainy Riverdistinctive kokako-like heavy wing beats were heard about 60m from the observers. Soon after this Len saw a bird making giant leaps up the trunk of a rimuLen Turner & Peter Rudolf15099125329047
Shallow Bay (N.E. corner of Lake Manapouri)
he observed a kokako perched in a tree on a cold frosty evening only 300m from the hut. He described the bird has being slightly bigger than a tui, streamlined in shape, spindly legs, long tail, having a light area about the eye, curved bill and orange wattles. Neil stated that the colour was a uniform grey but that were highlights of blue on the plumage as in the colour found on a kingfisher
Neil Lynscott (03-2246388) from Riverton
18811/04/20112South WestlandMoeraki RiverParinga Cattle TrackSilhouette of bird, size and shape of kokako, running along branches. - long legs on bird set well back towards tail, piercing bellbird -like calls Pieter Hensen13068875146114
19025/04/20112South WestlandMoeraki RiverParinga Cattle TrackSilhouette of probable kokako, lighter and larger than a tui, light colour about head, wing flapping, walking up bough of tree -the patch of colour around the face was not yellow or orange but pale -light blue?Alec Milne13068675146104
21012/25/19843BullerMaruiaStation Creekbird in flight was that it was larger than a tui, and had a wedge-shaped tail but its colour was not seen against the sky. The bird walked up the trunk of the tree in an unusual manner. Shortly after disappearing in the crown of the tree, the bird produced an “incredible song” which Neil described as like “cathedral bells”Neil Taylor15409715322323
31/03/19903Nelson LakesHoward ValleyLouis CreekNo details given other than possible kokako sighting in the left branch of Louis Creek (approx. 10 minutes up from house, in regenerating forest.J.H. Gardiner15712485375611
415/03/19903Nelson LakesHoward RiverLouis Creek - left branchA kokako was reported as being seenMurry Win15716585375501
521/04/19903S.E. OtagoFleming River2 km inland from Forest and Bird's Tautuku Lodge, podocarp forest on the edge of scrub/swamplandKokako-like call of three notes, last two in descending scale, large bird clumsy flight - 20mDr R John Wilson 13228534835855
216/1/19903North WestlandPaparoalimestine escarpment just north of Pororari RiverBill Handcock14694565333694
2926/08/19903N.W. OtagoGreenstone RiverGreenstone - Slyburn Hut clearingCrow-like bird flying over beech canopy at dusk - observer familiar with N.I.kokako - kokako sign in this area in 1982Graham Col12264425008412
92/11/19903Stewart IslandRakeahua RiverKoka Basin - Garden SaddleHollow note," wong" sound, wing flapping, click, clacking sound - large dark bird flew and crashed into foliage - some fresh moss grubbing 12044564784615
814/11/19903Stewart IslandRakeahua RiverUpper Rakeahua RiverSingle very loud chime call, wing flapping, hollow note - mimicry by bellbirds and tui, large dark bird flying around the crown of a rimu tree12050634782413
3051/01/19933FiordlandCaples ValleyCaples ValleyHuata claimed to have taken a good photograph of one of the birds he believes to be kokako. Described birds as behaving unusually. They were flying from a bough of beech tree to the ground, and returning several times. Apparently in chase. He did not see wattles.Huata Holmes12258015008101
2571/1/19933Central WestlandOtira Valley200 m from tunnel portalbird seen in fuscia, wattles maybe seenMoira Hazelwood 14815175253411
28012/6/19933BullerTutaki ValleyseenSimon & Nicola Blakemore15584525370004
391/01/19943N.W. NelsonCobb Valley2/3 way up Chaffey Stream Large than tui, blue-grey. Seen on two separate hunting trips. No full report for Murry. Peter tried to press him but he wasn’t interested.Murry Winter15618105450972
4210/25/19943Central WestlandInangahua Valley
Larry's Creek gorge
a large bird ran along a log, hopped to another, and then flew away. It was light grey in colour, the size of a magpie and flew in low arcs across the forest floor
Mark Baxter and Jonathon Smart
461/04/19953BullerLyall Creek
Lyall picnic ground
Two steely-grey birds, approximately magpie size were seen flying very low beside forest edge at the Lyall Creek picnic ground. The flight was noted to be quite erratic, and the wing flapping was noisy. The birds came from behind the observer, and were seen for only a few seconds. John Benn15210265372469
26213/05/19953N.W. NelsonAorere RiverAorere (Rhubarb) ShelterUnusual flight and silhouette
John and Chris Oates
6523/10/19953North WestlandGrey ValleyCallaghans CreekGrey/blue bird observed, larger than a tui with a long and drooping tail - seen from 50m away but in bright sunshine - 20m up in a beech treeGraham Radcliffe14779775307589
5213/11/19953North WestlandGrey ValleyCasolis CreekWing flapping, dark bird power glided from beech tree into dense shrubs. Loud, heavy wing flapping heard; five minutes later an unidentified dark-coloured bird 'power-glided' from the crown of a beech tree to dense shrubs in the understorey. No further sign of the bird on investigation. R. Buckingham14918395335148
1041/02/19963South WestlandOkuruClose to the bushline on Hesper SpurA bird believed to be a kokako was seen in flight for about 15 seconds. It flew from a bush near bushline in "a half-circle swoop".Mike Bennett, Terry Sweetman12917405113450
5920/04/19963FiordlandBligh SoundTurn Round PointKokako-like calls. Bird seen flyingCraig Batchelor 11676525024404
6224/09/19963North WestlandHeaphy RiverGunner River swing bridge - 200m up river from bridge and near the second board-walkDark bird larger than tui with short wings, heard "tooks" and "swinging gate" callSandie Legge15274475465488
6420/10/19963South WestlandGorge RiverHead of the Jerry RiverCalls different from tui and kaka- birds described as big lazy tui, slow in movement - in canopy early morningMike Bygate12211935095337
Marlborough Sounds
Keneperu SndKeneperu SndA single bird seen on repeated occasions. Larger than a tui, paler coloured. Slow wing flap and glides. Stu Moore said his description fitted kokakoRoy Jones16747915436893
61/02/19973South WestlandOkuruNgatau R.Four unidentified birds flew out of bush for a short while before disappearing into a deep gully. They were a shiny, grey-blue colour. M. Bennett12917405113450
2832/1/19973BullerTutaki ValleyTutaki ForksseenPat Cooper15553435370045
1167/03/19973South WestlandWhataroa RiverAbuts HeadKokako-like bird seen - 7m Loud clucking calls Unusual movementsBarry Donovan13800295222886
842/06/19973South WestlandWhataroa RiverAbuts Head. On kahikatea flatsLarge dark bird. Wing flappingBarry Donovan13810305223086
8715/10/19973FiordlandGreenstone Valleyheard bird callingGerald Freeman12200305024010
941/02/19983South WestlandCopland Valley1/2 hour up from roadendA grey bird, the size of a blackbird seen about 2 m away on branch, before it flew horizontally toward river. Seen from back view. No details because of angle of view, and short duration of glimpse, but colour definite grey. No calls heard.Jan Neale, 03 753408313432255170437
9715/04/19983N.W. OtagoGreenstone RiverAbove Slip Flat Hutbird was smaller than a pigeon and the colour varied a little from a pale olive to a uniform grey“Bugs” Ayres12289225012210
10125/12/19983N.W. NelsonPeel RidgeAbove Mytton's hut near alpine margin *Heard and seenJohn Green15681075445104
1031/01/19993BullerBuller Gorgeon riverside track between Little Deep Creek and Dale CreekA dark, heavy looking bird with similar flight to NI kokako (as seen on video), definitely not a pigeon, flew across Buller River from Deepdale side to river track below the highway.John Winsley15253345370729
2051/02/19993South Westlandupper Okuru RiverNgatau R.A bluey-grey bird, larger than a blackbird, was seen to "flutter" c. 80 m to a tree, and then glide from one tree to another. It was also seen hopping up branches, and walking along a branch. When walking up a branch, the bird used its wings for balance. It appeared to have longish legs. Face not seen clearly.Dave Asher12917405113450
661/10/19993N.E. NelsonRai Saddle
as he approached the Rai Saddle
Bird seen flying across the road. Slaty/grey size of a MagpieRick Oxenham16464885440223
2071/1/20003North WestlandOpararasee Kokako 2000 reportRhys Buckingham, Andrew McAlister14721005353047
7217/10/20003North WestlandOparara RiverNimrodel Ridgekokako-like wing flapping was heard followed by a brief sighting of a largish bird that “power-glided” in kokako fashion
Rhys Buckingham, Stephen Bradley and Warren Burgess
12519/11/20003North WestlandGrey ValleyDuffers Creek. Flute notes recordedFlute-like notes, bongs. Large dark bird, organ notes, moss grubbing!
Rhys Buckingham
12626/11/20003Stewart IslandJackson RiverBrief silhouette, kokako-like calls, moss grubbing
Rhys Buckingham
28712/1/20003Central WestlandAlexander River
near junction of Alexander River and Absolum Creek
Large (closer to pigeon size than tui), grey in colour with an unusual flightJohn Reid15132295314150
13228/12/20003South WestlandLake Wahapo2 km north of Lake WahapoGrey coat, black mask, stumped wingsGus Anning 13800475206224
1381/01/20013Aspiring NPSiberia ValleySiberia SpurAt least once unidentified grey bird of kokako size seen. Definitely not tui or kereru. Observer very reliable according to Bruce McKinley.Clinton O'Brien12842585095954
1501/20/20033N.E. NelsonWhangamoa SaddleNelson side of the summitseenJocelyn Dudding16364715436414
14215/03/20033N.W. NelsonBurgoo StreamSeen near small dam in Burgoo Valley floor * Larger than tui, seen 'bouncing' up leaning dead treeChileab Grey15605515460148
15215/05/20043North WestlandCharleston Limestone RoadKokako -like silhouette seen, unusual movements, three-note song Ron Nilsson14726195353447
1981/1/20053North CanterburyHurunui Riverdark bird gliding thru forestPete Cronshaw15266395273410
Full sighting details