Kotuku (White Heron) Single Sided Wooden Puzzle
The Kotuku (also called Great White Heron or Great White Egret) is rarely seen. Its sole breeding site near Okarito Lagoon in Westland is well-protected, but elsewhere it is 'He kotuku rerenga tahi' or the bird of single flight, implying something seen perhaps once in a lifetime. When seen in close proximity it is a magnificent bird, with its large size and clean white plumage.The Kotuku has a long yellow bill, long dark legs and a very long neck. When breeding, the bill becomes grey-black and long plumes develop, mainly on the back. In flight, the Kotuku tucks its head back into its shoulders so that the length of its neck is hidden, giving it a hunched appearance. When walking, the Kotuku has an elegant upright stance showing the extreme length of its neck. When resting it is more hunched with its head tucked in, making the bird appear more bulky. Important identification characters when separating the Kotuku from other white egret species include overall size, relative neck length, bill colour and shape, and how far the gape (i.e. the corner of the mouth) extends back in relation to the eye. The Kotuku is the largest, longest-necked of the egrets. Vocally it has a harsh croak.
Because of its rarity and its beautiful plumage, the Kotuku was highly valued by Maori and European settlers for its ornamental feathers. The species was almost exterminated to satisfy the demand after its only breeding site on the Waitangiroto River was discovered in 1865. By 1941 there were only four nests. At this time, the Waitangiroto site was declared a reserve. The numbers have now stabilised