Cagou: the bird that had a dream
Cagou, Kagu, Kagou

This could start like a native kanak tale: 

Once upon a time, there was a bird living on the pacific island of New Caledonia. New Caledonia was so remote that very few animals lived there: some birds, geckos and bats were the only large animals on the island.

This bird was a normal bird and was spending his day flying from tree to tree and eating fruits. One night in summer, perched high on a tree, the bird had a dream. He dreamt of an animal that didn’t exist on the island at that time.

Obviously the bird didn’t know what this animal was. It was so different from what he knew.

The bird was so inspired by his dream that he decided he would like to become one.

He had noticed that his dream animal couldn’t fly and decided not to use its wings anymore (1). Instead of flying from tree to tree he became used to walking in the shade of the forest.

He also had noticed that this animal was not eating plants or fruits like most birds and decided to change its diet and became carnivorous (2).

He had made good progress in resembling his idol, but he was still not happy. He remembered that this animal made a very different noise from all the birds and animals of the forest.

The bird practised a sound that was similar to “Kagu, Kagu, Kagu…” (3).

A few centuries later, when the first men arrived on the island of New Caledonia, they called this particular bird Kagu (often spelt Cagou or Kagou) in reference of his sound.


The bird had dreamt of a dog.


We invented this story but here are 3 TRUE facts about the cagou (Rhynochetos jubatus – sometimes spelled Kagou or Kagu) the endemic bird and emblem of New Caledonia:

  1. The cagou is flightless: you will tell us that there are other birds that are flightless but what is particular about the cagou is that it has normal sized wings.
  2. The cagou is exclusively carnivorous: the cagou’s diet is based on insects, worms, spiders, small fish.
  3. The cagou emits a particular sound and in New Caledonia we say it barks like a young dog 😉


To observe the Cagou, 2 places we can guide you too: the zoological park (Parc Forestier in French) where you can observe the Cagou in captivity.

Otherwise, the best place to observe the Cagou in nature is the Blue River park where they have found a safe habitat and where observing them is frequent.

The Cagou is a beautiful bird and at Oleti Tours we have observed him for hours in its natural environment, focused on hunting while we were watching him. For more information, please contact us.