The elusive ghost of the forests from New Caledonia

JJ Harrison

The Kagu, sometimes known as the Cagou, is a crested, long-legged, bluish-grey bird found only in New Caledonia’s deep mountain woods. Although a second species has been reported from the fossil record, it is the sole living member of Rhynochetos and the family Rhynochetidae.

It has pale grey plumage and vivid red legs and measures 55 cm (22 in) in length. Its ‘nasal corns’ are a distinguishing trait that no other bird has. It spends almost all of its time on or near the ground, hunting invertebrates and building a nest of sticks on the forest floor. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating and parenting a single egg. It is vulnerable to invasive predators and is on the verge of extinction, with about 250-1000 birds remaining in the wild.


Population est.
New Caledonia
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Clan

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No