The Kokako is a flighted New Zealand native that fills the ecological niche occupied by squirrels in other part of the world. It is flighted compared to the fully flightless birds such as the Kiwi, but its wings are reduced and rounded making it a poor flyer, but a decent glider. It has long, strong legs that allow it to jump between trees searching for food. Its diet consists of leaves, fern fronds, fruits, flowers, and insects. The birds form long term pair bonds and can live up to 25 years in the wild. They are also the only bird species known to form male-male pairs that nest together and hold a territory together.
The lineage of the Kokako is an ancient one. It is estimated that the ancestors of the bird, along with its two closest relatives, came to NZ 80 million years ago just before Gondwana broke apart. Of its two closest relative one is extinct and the other is endangered. The family that they belong to, Callaeidae, is thought to be an early radiation of Passerines (song birds). Their next closest relative appears to be the Stichbird, but the taxonomic relationship has yet to be fully resolved.
Like many of NZ's native birds the Kokako has fallen victim to predation by introduced mammals with females being especially vulnerable during their 50 day incubation of the nest. The current population of Kokakos is estimated at 400 with the majority of these birds being male.
They are listed by the IUCN as endangered.