The Grey Ghost – Endangered Birds in New Zealand

In the South Island of New Zealand, in lush evergreen forest, every once in awhile the Grey Ghost is heard or seen. The organ-like duets of long melodies are heard during the misty sunrise, with the dominant call a slow, rich “Ko-ka-ko-o-o-o-o”.

The South Island Kokako (Orange Wattled Crow)

Better known as the South Island Kokako, the Grey Ghost is the rarest bird in the world. The last accepted record of the bird was in Reefton, New Zealand in 2007, almost 10 years ago.

There is a passionate team behind the search for the Grey Ghost which is within a area of native forest stretching more than 700km along the Southern Alps of New Zealand. A charitable trust has been set (http://www.southislandkokako.org/) up with the aim of finding, obtaining and preserving these unique extremely endangered birds before they’re added tothe ever growing list of extinct birds. The exact population of the Kokako is unknown but it extremely low even possibly extinct already.

The South Island Kokako (Orange Wattled Crow)

 The North Island Kokako (Blue Wattled Crow

The North Island Kokako, like the South Island Kokako share almost entirely the same characteristics. The biggest defining differences being that the wattle of the South Island Kokako is orange compared to that of the North Island Kokako being blue.

The North Island Kokako itself had it’s own close call with extinction, but decades of conservation work by passionate conservationists has led to a well established population of around 1600 birds.

A shy forest bird, the Kokako prefers to bound from branch to branch rather than fly and is very watchful, adding to the challenge of tracking down these threatened birds. They don’t often fly for much longer than 100m at a time but are capable of flying many miles in a day.

If you’re in the forests of New Zealand keep yours eyes open, your mind and ears clear for on one day you may be in the presence of the Grey Ghost.