The cagou, whose singing sounds like barking, is an endemic bird that is considered the emblem of New Caledonia.
Magnificent bird, looking like an Indian chief in its impressive panache, blue-gray feathers, white and gray striped wings, and red beak and legs, it is a bird that can no longer fly and walk awkwardly. When it feels threatened, he squats and spreads its wings like a fan over its head. One might think that nature wanted to provide this bird with real set of camouflage colours to make it less visible.
It has very good binocular sight, which helps to identify easily the prey. Commonly, it stands straight, motionless, with one leg bent, on the lookout for the slightest noise or the slightest movement. With an incredible speed, it captures its prey with a peck. It is a carnivore, which feeds primarily on insects, larvae, worms, lizards and geckos.
Because of little means of defence, despite its aggressive attitudes, it gradually diminished in number. It is threatened especially by dogs, cats, wild pigs, rats and humans who are destroying the habitat. In the mornings and in the evenings the cagous make a "KAGU" sound resembling the barking of a dog, which inspired the name given to the bird by the natives.
Still present in protected forests, it is in the morning, at dawn, that it is easier to identify it because of its singing. You can see them during a hike, in Parc de la Rivière Bleu – i.e. the Blue River Park in the Deep South, which is their natural playground, or in Noumea, in the Parc Forestier.
Classified in the Annex I of the Washington Convention on the Trade of Threatened Species (CITES), the cagou is fully protected and cannot be sold under any circumstances. Its hunting, capture and possession are prohibited in New Caledonia.