The bones of this bird tell a common story in these islands. It was better to put your energy into growing, not flying. Ancestors of this duck lost 10% of their wing length within only 10,000 years.
Now it was those stout legs that were made for moving about on land.
Large flocks could be found feeding on the open clearings, foraging for plants, finding them more by smell than by sight.
The duck was always hunted from the skies by both hokioi (the giant eagle) and the Forbes harrier. But when humans arrived they were also hunted on the ground by us and our dogs.
Their numbers went down & down from the 1400’s to the 1600’s, until they were extinct. But one (maybe) was caught by dogs near Opotiki, in 1870.
They’d got stuck on the ground – now the most dangerous place to be. They couldn’t escape the new hunters. They couldn’t fly off & hide on water. Their tree hole nests could be found.
And they didn’t have 10,000 years to change back again! Time was no longer on their side.
In Cloak of Protection Finsch’s duck is eaten by hokioi, Forbes harrier, dog & human