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Pukeko chicks, day two


These are the two survivors of six eggs we rescued in 1996. Initially we set the eggs under a sitting bantam hen. However, when the chicks began to hatch, making their hideous noise, the hen began to attack them and had killed one and severely injured the second by the time I rescued them from that danger. These two were cleavage incubated (what better place to be born?). The birds must have been no more than a few days old at the time of this picture.

Within two weeks of their hatching, a disaster occurred, in the form of the infanticidal hen who partly aided in their incubation. Sensing some danger to her chicken chicks (which she'd hatched at the same time as the pukeko chicks), from these strange black fluff-balls on extraordinary feet, she jumped on one of them, breaking one of his main leg bones. After seeking veterinary advice, I set his leg as well as possible and kept the wee thing immobilized and entertained for the next couple of weeks.

He looked like this...  

Pukeko in a bandage  ...very sad.

The end result was an unfortunate bend in the upper half of the right leg and curled toes, probably due to some tendon shortening during the healing process. However, he did survive to adulthood as a most delightful companion, very tame due to the close contact during his recuperation. Almost catlike in his behaviour - sitting on laps, loving being stroked while sitting there, usually making a purr-equivalent noise.

Pukeko chick

Pukeko chicks, we discovered, exhibit this most amusing behaviour. Presumably as a "feed me" demand, they sort of squat and reach forward with their wings looking like spindly black arms, waving about.

Pukeko chick with first blue breast feathers

The wonderful breast feathers suddenly appear.

young Pukeko picking seeds from Ruth's feet

Opportunistic seed picking: why go out for lunch when you can have it delivered?

Pukeko bathing in a bowl

An extremely active bather.  He did this daily, seeking out any bowl or bucket.

Both birds went off to form their own families in their first season. We didn't see the female again, but the male returned, continued his intimate connection with us, moulted and then in the next season, off he went, never to be seen again.

a Pukeko running away

See also the Birds page for more information.

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© All Content Copyright Ruth Renner, 2001.