Unidentified (non) Flying Dinosaur: Walking’s Fine, Thanks


Eskered has sent you a treat, my darlings: we haz a photo and a video! From New Zealand! And you know the UFDs are a little weird down there, not to mention some of them don’t even fly.

Take this bird.

UFD I

Somewhere along the line, its ancestors decided flying was for the other birds, and went completely ground-based. That certainly makes it easier to chase them around with a camera. Little bastards can’t just fly up into the foliage and laugh their arses off at you. Ha!

This is fantastic. I love having videos, even if places like Photobucket don’t make it easy to resize to fit. I’m sure it can be done, I’m just too lazy to mess with it. Besides, you can see all the bits (if you have Shockwave) and that’s what matters in the identification bidness.

The bird-savvy among us probably won’t find this ident too hard, so if anybody wants to stretch themselves by telling us a bit about its evolutionary history, that would be awesome. I love it when evolution dispenses with bits that were once necessary but are no longer, but hasn’t quite finished getting rid of the previously-useful bits, so you see things like wings on a bird that will never fly, and legs in a whale. Those little vestiges of the past were actually what made me fall in love with evolution. It’s somehow silly and charming and utterly interesting.

Feel free to submit videos as well as photos. Put UFD in the subject line, and send to dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

Comments

  1. says

    I think this is a weka (Gallirallus australis), based on the pale eyebrow and mostly uniform brown colour. According to my NZ bird book (which never gets used, as I’m in Canada, so any real Kiwis please chime in), the only other rail/crake thing in NZ with a pale eyebrow like that is a banded rail, which is nocturnal and should have a grey throat, yellow breast, and obvious black and white barred belly.

  2. rq says

    This would be the weka bird, Gallirallus australis, New Zealand’s most common flightless bird (how many do they have?). It’s not round and fluffy enough for a kiwi (New Zealand’s most popular flightless bird?) and doesn’t have a beak long enough.
    http://www.wild-facts.com/tag/birds-of-new-zealand/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weka

    As for the evolutionary aspect, there’s some nice information here:
    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/large-forest-birds/1
    … but it mainly comes down to lower risk (higher aerial predation rather than ground-based), more opportunity (more open niches due to less mammals), and energy conservation (metabolism slower etc.). These differences arise due to New Zealand’s isolation from other, more standard, ‘mainland’ (Australian and other continental) populations.