(Picture by Brian Choo)

    This rare and imposing bird appears, at first glance, to be a real mean machine with its huge, serrated beak and sharp talons. However, reports indicate that it is a rather inept predator, preferring to scavenge or to dispatch already dying animals. It is found on both of the main islands with the North Island form being a darker animal that lacks it's southern cousin's distinctive crest.

    Despite its sleek appearance and powerful limbs, the great gobbler is a rather slow runner. Its powerful beak allows it to crunch bone and has a very wide gape enabling it to swallow many corpses whole. These birds have been sighted beachcombing for carrion as well as driving smaller cousins, the johnny gobblers, away from their kills. One great gobbler was witnessed raiding a seabird colony. With its eyes closed it was seemingly immune to the furious pecks of the parent birds as it casually went about consuming eggs, nestlings and overprotective parents by the mouthful.

    The great gobbler has been witnessed actively hunting on only a few occasions - more often than not with the observer being the intended quarry! In these cases the large size and clumsly movements of the bird gave its position away and it gave up the hunt after a relatively short but frantic chase.

(Text by Brian Choo)
(Text by Daniel Bensen)

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