Kagu, scientifically known as Rhynochetos jubatus, is the only surviving member of the genus Rhynochetos and the family Rhynochetidae. This bird is listed as an endangered species. Scientists have been claiming this bird to be the only species of its genus, although a second species was described by studying the fossil records. The Kagu, like other flightless birds, developed its flightlessness in due course of time. With the changing environment, the Kagu gradually retreated to the interior mountains and valleys for its own protection.
The Kagu was a unique bird, and was one of its own kinds. The bird measured about 55 cm in length. The plumage was pale gray in color, with bright red legs; which can attract anybody from a far distance. One of the unique features is the presence of ‘nasal corns’, which is not shared with any other bird living or dead. Being almost flightless, it spends its time on or near the ground. In the ground it hunts its invertebrate prey. The nest is built on the forest floor with the help of sticks. Both parents share incubation of single egg, as well as rearing the chick.
This strange, flightless bird is a forest dweller of the Pacific island of New Caledonia. It was trapped in early times by the Melanesians, and later by Europeans who trapped them for pets and for the profitable plume trade of the early 1900s. Much of the bird’s habitat was destroyed because of nickel mining. As an endangered species, the Kagu receives full legal protection. A forest park is being developed, which aims to ensure the continued existence of the last living members of this species. Domestic dogs, cats, pigs, and rats are presently its most serious threat. It has proved vulnerable to introduced predators, and is threatened with extinction.