(Picture by Brian Choo)

    Not a pleasant animal in looks, disposition or odour, the johnny gobbler is a highly adaptable and opportunistic predator that is found throughout the Aotearoan archipelago. Operating alone, in pairs or in large murders of up to 2 dozen animals, this bird is known to attack, harass and maim just about anything that moves including others of it's own species during times of stress.

    Lone johnnies forage for small animals and carrion in the undergrowth and streambeds, turning over stones and wood for insects and reptiles. They are also infamous nest thieves, sometimes snatching away hatchlings from right under their parents' gaze. When the opportunity to bring down a bigger animal like a lawnmoa or disco duck presents itself, large numbers of johnnies gather for the kill, squawking and making mock attacks to rattle their intended quarry. Once isolated from its kin, the prey is relentlessly harassed from all sides with individual johnnies making quick slashing attacks with their beaks. The attackers soon develop a shift system with some individuals continuing the onslaught while others rest. After several hours of this torment, the prey is usually too exhausted to fight and is quickly torn to pieces.

(Text by Brian Choo)

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