Moa and other New Zealand fauna

The Eastern Moa lived in scrub and low forest in the eastern South Island and stood about 1.5 metres tall and weighed about 51–70 kilograms. The Eastern Moa and the Coastal Moa and the Stout-legged Moa are stout, short–legged birds with a broad blunt bill, the Stout–legged Moa being the stoutest of the three species of the sub family Emeiae. However, there is a wide variability in size within species, some birds being twice as big as the smallest in the species.

The Easterm Moa, together with the Stout–legged Moa, was widespread east of the Alps in the South Island and dominant along the eastern coast.

The Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout–legged Moa had a diet probably dominated by fruit and leaves and large insects, unlike the larger birds which had a more fibrous diet consisting of twigs as well.

All Moa species, as in all birds, had a syrinx, birds’ vocal organ. Worthy and Holdaway postulate that because the Coastal Moa, the Eastern Moa and the Stout–legged Moa, together with the Upland Moa had the smallest olfactory chambers, they had the greatest vocal abilities. They perhaps needed loud calls in their mixed dense grassland, shrubland and forest environments. Males may have had lek behavior or even been noctural. We don’t know.

moa feathers
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Description:  — 

Extinct bird

1.5 metres, 51-70 kilograms.

Poetry:  — 

He moa kai hau.

A moa that feeds on air.

Illustration description: — 


Taylor, Rev. Richard; Te ika a Maui, or New Zealand and its inhabitants, illustrating the manners, customs, mythology, reliion, rites, songs, proverbs, fables, and language of the natives, Wertheim & MacIntosh, London 1855.

Transactions of the NZ Insititute, Volume 4, 1871.

Reference(s): — 


Worthy, Trevor H., & Holdaway, Richard N., The Lost World of the Moa, 2002.

Oliver, W.R.B. New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 27 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.