As they eat, they hold their salad food parrot-like with one large red foot. Keen for a bit of dietary variety, they also munch down insects, frogs and even the eggs and small chicks of other unlucky birds who share their wetland homes.
Supremely adaptive, pooks have prospered on farmland and are at times vilified as a pest - thanks to their taste for grain and vegetable crops.
A Manawatū wetland owner talks of feeding his pooks dog biscuits in breeding season, with the hope of supplementing their protein intake so they stop scoffing the resident ducklings!
In 2003, the New Zealand Herald reported the Department of Conservation stooping to open warfare on Great Barrier Island to halt some predatory pooks' preference for a tasty bit of rare duckling. Over two years, some 1700 pūkeko were put down by high-speed lead injection in an effort to save the critically endangered Brown Teal - which had suffered an alarming drop in numbers thanks to the pesky pook.
Pop back to Te Pūkeko Gallery