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Rhynochetidae – Kagu

Kagu in New Caledonia: Photo by J. J. Harrison

Welcome to our guides on Rhynochetidae, a family found in the dense rainforests of Southeast Asia. With only one extant species, the fascinating Kagu, this family is captivating in its rarity and unique characteristics. The Kagu is known for its distinctive appearance, with a long, down-curved bill and striking plumage, as well as its secretive nature, often dwelling amidst the dense undergrowth of its forest habitat.

Overview of Rhynochetidae

The flightless native of New Caledonia, the Kagu, captures invertebrates from the forest floor or probes for them in the soil of lush, humid forests. During foraging, the Kagu follows a peculiar routine, alternating between jogging and sudden stops, where it peers intently, perhaps listening as well, before swiftly jabbing at the ground with its robust bill. Its striking silver-gray plumage is highlighted by an elongated, feathery crest, often erected in expressive displays among its familial group. In moments of alarm, the Kagu unfurls its wings to reveal a stunning pattern of chestnut, black, and white, reminiscent of its relative, the Sunbittern.