Kāhu is the Māori name for the New Zealand Swamp Harrier, a large, tawny-brown bird of prey that occurs throughout New Zealand. It is an opportunistic hunter that searches for food by slowly quartering the ground with its large wings held in a distinctive shallow V-shape.
Adapted to hunt in open habitats, its numbers have benefited from widespread forest clearance and the development of agriculture. Although carrion is a major component of the harrier’s diet, it also actively hunts live prey such as small birds, mammals and insects.
Capable dispersers, birds from New Zealand visit islands as far north as the Kermadec Islands and as far south as Campbell Island. Known for their dramatic ‘sky-dancing’ courtship display the swamp harrier is the largest of the 16 species of harriers found worldwide.