New Zealand Ravens

The New Zealand Raven (Covus antipodum Forbes, 1893) was native to the North Island and South Island of New Zealand but is now extinct. There were two subspecies: the North Island Raven (Corvus antipodum antipodum Forbes, 1893) and the South Island Raven (Corvus antipodum pycrofti Gill, 2003). Another closely related raven species occurred on the Chatham Islands, namely the Chatham Islands Raven (Corvus moriorum Forbes, 1892).

New Zealand Ravens were large crows with long, broad bills that were not as arched as those of some of the Hawaiian Crows (Corvus hawaiiensis). They were significantly smaller than the Chatham Island Raven, and the South Island subspecies was rather larger than the North Island subspecies.’

Remains of New Zealand Ravens are most common in Pleistocene and Holocene coastal sites. On the coast, it may have frequented seal and penguin colonies or fed in the intertidal zone, as does the Tasmanian Forest Raven Corvus tasmanicus. It may also have depended on fruit, like the New Caledonian Crow Corvus moneduloides, but it is difficult to understand why a fruit eater would have been most common in coastal forest and shrubland when fruit was distributed throughout the forest.

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