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Pūkeko/Australasian Swamp Hen Porphyrio melanotus

Native. Not threatened.


With their large size, bright blue plumage and raucous behaviour, Pūkeko are a familiar bird around the area.

They are an abundant species throughout most regions of Aotearoa New Zealand. They have a growing presence being observed in margins bordering the Estuary. They are numerous in the damp paddocks in and around Foxton Beach, often forming groups of six to tens birds out of the breeding season.

Their breeding system make them a very interesting species to study. Many form monogamous pairs (1 male/1 female) while others are can be polygynandy where both males and females have multiple partners.


Pūkeko are known to breed at any time of the year if conditions are favourable and it is not uncommon to see chicks during the winter months. Clutch size is up to six eggs but can be many more if additional females lay in the same nest.

Mainly vegetarian, feeding on a variety of grasses, sedges and rushes but they also catch small animals and will feed on carrion. If items can't be swallowed whole, they will be gripped in a foot and ripped apart.

nzbirdsonline pukeko

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