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12 surprising flightless birds

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 2, 2017, 11:34 a.m.
The colorful and stocky takahe is considered critically endangered.

Photo: Jeffrey B. Banke/Shutterstock

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Looking something like a cross between the colors of the cassowary and the body of the nativehen, the takahē is a species found in New Zealand. This species was thought to be extinct for quite a while, but then one of those miraculous moments in science happened as it was rediscovered in 1948 after an extensive search. There are still a few individuals in its home range, and more individuals have been relocated to nearby predator-free islands. Still, it is considered critically endangered with fewer than 300 individuals.

It's a fairly large bird for a rail, growing to about 25 inches long and weighing between 5-6 pounds. Pairs are monogamous, mating for life which can be 12 years or more. And interestingly, the chicks will often stay with their parents for 18 months or more, helping to raise the newest chick. Meanwhile, those chicks born in captive breeding programs are reared with the help of a puppet that looks (sort of) like an adult takahē, which the human handler uses to feed the chick and thus minimize any habituation to humans.