Poaka, also know as the Australian pied stilt, black-winged or white-headed stilt, is a wading bird with very long, pink legs and a fine, long, black bill. Thought to have been in New Zealand since the early 1800’s, it is a close relative of the rare, endemic kaki or black stilt. The two birds can interbreed which further threatens kaki survival.
When poaka arrived, kaki were common throughout Aotearoa but now less that 100 birds survive in the wild. The last remaining habitat is found in South Canterbury and North Otago where it makes its nest on stony river beds. In contrast its close relative, poaka, has multiplied.
Poaka like to breed in colonies of about fifteen pairs but some colonies can have more than a hundred nesting pairs. They are often seen feeding in the same areas as oystercatchers but are easily identified by their long thin legs and smart black and white feathers.