Old timers talk of the times when paddocks were "black with pukakas" in winter. Nowadays Kiwi's and tourists alike will spot them pretty much everywhere throughout the country, in rough damp pasture (and roadside drains) near wet spots (lakes, marshes and swamps).
A variety of savvy urban pooks can also be found in city parks and ornamental ponds. Here they can become quite tame - giving resident ducks a run for their bread money!
They happen to be a New Zealand native bird with a price on their heads! Back in 1922 conservationist Thomas Mackenzie mananged to get them (along with paradise shelducks) onto New Zealand's protected birds list - although they could (and can) still be hunted during the duck hunting season by licence holders.
The early New Zealand naturalist, Guthrie Smith, maintained they made great pets and that every country family should rear them. Certainly today you can find many a country family with tales of semi-tame pooks raiding kitchens, dog bowls and gardens.
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