Family Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)


South Island Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri)


French: Takahé du Sud German: Takahe Spanish: Calamón takahe

Notornis Hochstetteri

A. B. Meyer

, 1883,

Bare-patch Plains, east of Lake Te Anau, South Island, New Zealand


Occasionally still placed in genus Notornis. Previously treated as a subspecies of extinct †P. mantelli of North I. Recent studies, however, suggest that the two are sufficiently distinct in biometrics and genetics to be treated as separate species, having evolved independently#R#R. Monotypic.


SW South I, New Zealand.

Introduced to Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti, Mana (all off North I) and Maud I (NE South I).

Descriptive notes

63 cm; stands c. 50 cm tall; male 2250–3250 (2673) g, female 1850–2600 (2268) g. Largest living rallid; thickset, flightless species with reduced wings, massive bill and... read more


Contact call a single rising squawk, “klowp”. Alarm call a low, resonant “boomp... read more


Alpine tussock grassland; also subalpine scrub and beech (Nothofagus) forest in winter,... read more

Food and feeding

Eats predominantly leaf bases of Chionochloa tussocks and other alpine grass species; leaf bases of Cyperaceae, grass seeds and... read more


Mainly Oct–Dec; eggs occasionally to mid-Feb and small young late Mar (probably from renesting after failure). Monogamous; pair-bond... read more


Sedentary and flightless. Holds grassland territories until snow prevents feeding, when descends... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Formerly widespread on South I. Population in 2012 estimated at 227 mature individuals. Thought extinct by 1930s, but rediscovered W of Lake Te Anau in Murchison... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). South Island Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).