An Endangered Bird that is Recovering


Newspapers have been celebrating the fact that the population of the takahē bird has finally grown to four hundred and eighteen. Early in the twentieth century people thought the takahē was extinct until three were found in 1948, in Fiordland’s South Island mountains by Doctor Geoffrey Orbell.

A takahē is a large, fat, flightless bird that has blue and green feathers with a red beak and feet. They are about sixty-three centimeters long and can weigh about two and a half kilos.

Deer and takahē both eat grass. Unfortunately, deer tend to eat the grass right down to the roots, leaving nothing for takahē to eat. Being flightless, takahē are also in danger from rats, stoats, cats and dogs.

After takahē were found, they were initially bred in captivity. Then small groups were released on islands that were free of deer, rats and other predators. Takahē are now living in sanctuaries on various islands and the mainland.

If you want to see a Takahē, you can visit sanctuaries around New Zealand. In Auckland, there is Tiritiri Matangi island, accessible by ferry. It is also possible to see them on Motutapu Island, Rotoroa Island, Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary and the Auckland Zoo. If you live near Hamilton, you could see takahē at the sanctuary on Maungatautari Mountain. There are four sanctuaries near Wellington: Mana Island, Kapiti Island, Zealandia and the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. Near Christchurch, takahē can be seen at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. They can also be found in the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin. You can also visit the birds way down south in the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary in Te Anau.  

There is only one place where we know there are wild takahē; the Murchison Mountains in the South Island.



endangered: when the population of an animal is too low so that there is a danger of extinction.

extinct: when all of a species has died, there cannot be any more of it.

species: a specific animal

sanctuary: a safe place where the population inside is protected

flightless: unable to fly

bred in captivity: kept without freedom so that babies can be born

released: given freedom

mainland: a large area of land that is used for normal life

way: here, “way” is used to express an extreme. It could be replaced with “far.”


Listen to the video and answer this question: What was the takahē population in 2016?

  1. 180
  2. 118
  3. 280
  4. 218

2 thoughts on “An Endangered Bird that is Recovering”

  1. Great resource and interesting topics for ESL students

    Check the number in the last sentence. There is two place….

    Thanks for all your work

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