Turnagra capensis was a notoriously tame and inquisitive bird - individuals hopped around the undergrowth of the forest floor eating berries, seeds, insects and even carrion.

They were famous for their ability to mimic other birds’ calls and were regarded as "the best of the native singing birds" (Tennyson and Martinson 2006).

One of the reasons they were mistakenly referred to as thrushes - together with a superficial and misleading resemblance - was their habit of hopping around on the ground, grubbing for food amongst the detritus of the forest floor. They were also known to fly from the "top of a tree after insects, flycatcher-fashion, in the glow of a hot afternoon" (Potts 1873).

Their territoriality, rather than their omnivorous diet, probably accounts for the infamous recorded incidences of extraordinary aggression - for example, a captive piopio was reported to have killed two parakeets and attempted to eat the head of one (Fuller 1987).

Share this