IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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Biology

The weka is an omnivorous bird that will grasp any opportunity for food; they are known to steal eggs from domestic hens, vegetables from allotments, and anything edible from campsites (3) (4). In forests, the weka feeds primarily on fallen fruits and invertebrates, including earthworms, molluscs, insects and crustaceans. They also prey on lizards, frogs, the eggs and young of birds, and even sometimes kill rats, mice, chickens, young ducks and rabbits (2). If the opportunity arises, they will also scavenge from carcasses (2). To find and eat such a great variety of food requires a range of tactics. They rummage through leaf litter, lifting large dead palm leafs, and search thoroughly in seaweed and other beach debris. They probe tree hollows and burrows, and often follow wild pigs to search where they have rooted. Their sturdy bill can spear eggs, and can also be used as a hammer, to kill or break up large objects which are held down by its feet (2). The breeding season of the weka varies depending on the climate, food availability and size of the population, but can be all year round (2) (5). As monogamous birds, they have only one mate during a breeding season, and sometimes a bond may last throughout the breeding life of a pair (2). Weka are also territorial, and within their territory they nest on dry ground, usually in dense cover, such as in tussocks, burrows, tree hollows, under logs, stumps or rocks, or even hidden in outbuildings (2). The nest is a shallow cup of woven grasses, lilies, twigs and moss, lined with finer grasses, and sometimes feathers, wool, hair or leaves, built by both of the parents or the male only (2). An average of two to four eggs are laid in each clutch and are incubated by the female during the day, and the male at night, for a period of 26 – 28 days. The chicks leave the nest after two to three days, but are cared for by both parents for approximately two months (2) (3). Weka may rear up to four broods a year, and so after two months they are ready to lay another clutch of eggs, and thus begin to drive their current young away (2) (3). Whilst the young may appear somewhat bewildered at their parent's sudden change of behaviour, it is not long before they leave their parent's territory to establish their own, and lay their first clutch of eggs (3).

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Source: ARKive

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