12-year-old champion for pukeko



Pukeko living in Galloway have got local youngster Rhianna Hixson-Skinner thinking.
The 12-year-old Galloway resident, who attends St Gerard’s School, wants to keep the pukeko safe from passing motorists and has called on the public’s help to raise awareness.
She started her campaign to keep the birds safe by asking the Central Otago District Council if it could assist by providing some warning signs.

Rhianna believed just a couple of the signs would do the job, but a council representative said it could not assist, she said.
‘‘I went into the council building [two weeks ago] and then got a phone call the same day saying they couldn’t do it because of the cost and also they said that people wouldn’t slow down.’’

Now she has taken her desire to keep the birds safe to the wider community, in the hope someone could provide the funding needed orto help create some ‘‘slow down’’ signs, complete with a picture of the curious-looking bird.
‘‘[Authorities] put signs up by the duck ponds [for ducks] and they put signs up for the quail in Cromwell, so why can’t they do it in Alexandra for the pukekos?’’

Rhianna has been working on the project since the start of the year.
She believes warning signs was all it would take to keep the birds safe as they often cross roads in the Galloway area to get food before returning home.
‘‘They cross the road from their home where they sleep at night, to the paddock across the road to eat and cross back at night so they can go to sleep.’’
The News contacted the council for comment but due to current circumstances it could not respond before going to print.

The pukeko is a widespread and easily recognisable bird that has benefited greatly by the clearing of land for agriculture. In addition to its red frontal shield and deep violet breast plumage, the pukeko is interesting for having a complex social life. In many areas, pukeko live in permanent social groups and defend a shared territory that is used for both feeding and breeding. Social groups can have multiple breeding males and females, but all eggs are laid in a single nest and the group offspring are raised by all group members. Average length: 38cm to 50cm. Average weight: 1090g (male), 880g (female)

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