Tag Archives: South Island

Moa feather

This little feather comes from an Elephant-foot Moa (Pachyornis elephantopus (Owen)), which was found on the South Island of New Zealand and was exterminated about 600 to 500 years ago through hunting and habitat destruction.

reconstruction of a ca. 500 years old, subfossil feather

The feather is approx. 3.5 cm long and incomplete, but the original colors have been preserved to this day. [1]



[1] Nicolas J. Rawlence; Jamie R. Wood; Kyle N. Armstrong; Alan Cooper: DNA content and distribution in ancient feathers and potential to reconstruct the plumage of extinct avian taxa. Proceedings of the Royal Society 276: 3395-3402. 2009


edited: 21.11.2020

Say >Hello< to New Zealand’s newest bird species!

The Whenua Hou Diving Petrel was named after Whenua Hou [Codfish Island] a small island offshore the northwest coast of Stewart Island, New Zealand, where now the last remaining breeding population of this species, some 150 individuals at the most, remains.

The species did once breed on other New Zealand islands as well, including Dundas Island and Enderby Island (Auckland Islands), the Chatham Islands, South Island, and Stewart Island. It may also have bred on Macquarie Island.

The birds of that population are just now recognized as a distinct species, differing from the South Georgia Diving Petrel (Pelecanoides georgicus Murphy & Harper), with which they were until recently considered conspecific, and even consubspecific [if such a word exists] since this species was thought to be monotypic.

The Whenua Hou Diving Petrel can be distinguished from the South Georgia birds by several external features, especially by its more contrasting plumage.


Photo: TheyLookLikeUs

(under creative commons license (4.0))

Unfortunately, all sea bird species are more or less threatened with extinction right now, mainly because of the increasing plastic pollution of the world’s oceans.



[1] Johannes H. Fischer, Igor Debski, Colin M. Miskelly, Charles A. Bost, Aymeric Fromant, Alan J. D. Tennyson, Jake Tessler, Rosalind Cole, Johanna H. Hiscock, Graeme A. Taylor, Heiko U. Wittmer: Analyses of phenotypic differentiations among South Georgian Diving Petrel (Pelecanoides georgicus) populations reveal an undescribed and highly endangered species from New Zealand. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0197766. 2018


edited: 28.06.2018