Extinct Moa Bird Facts
Unique for being the only bird without wings, the extinct animal called the Moa Bird, was completely flightless. The fact that this bird had no wings was irrelevant
when you consider its massive size. It was simply too heavy to fly. But, what these birds lack in flight ability, they make up for in height. Where
Ostriches are the tallest extant bird species reaching a height of slightly over 9 feet (2.7 meters), the extinct giant Moa could reach twelve feet (3.7 meters) tall in its day. Scientists believe the reason why this
New Zealand dwelling animal is no longer in existence is because too many humans hunted them, particularly the Maori people of New Zealand. Read more facts and kid-
friendly information about this interesting animal on our extinct animals list.
Moa Bird Fun Facts
- Moas were the tallest bird on earth. However, once believed to have stood upright, scientists now believe they may have positioned their necks in a more horizontal
posture making them appear slightly shorter.
- With the exception of the Haast Eagle who feasted on the Moa, the Moa bird had no real predators to worry about until humans arrived on New Zealand.
- With so much natural vegetation in New Zealand, the Moas were generally herbivores, eating mostly plants - particularly ferns. They would purposely swallow smooth
stones or pebbles to help them digest the plant materials.
- Fossilized excrement from the Moa was analyzed by scientists to give them a better idea of what plants the Moa ate and therefore where they ate. It was discovered that
some species preferred forest areas while others preferred grasslands.
- Although egg fragments are discovered from time to time, only about 30 intact Moa eggs have been discovered and recorded, making the Moa's breeding habits a bit of a
mystery. Scientists have concluded, however, that the Moa did not nest in trees but instead made nests at ground level making it an easy catch for the Maori people.
- Fossils of this extinct animal have been discovered from as far back as 2.4 million years.
Moa Bird Anatomy Facts
- Some of the largest species of Moa could weigh up to 550 pounds (250kg).
- Moa birds ranged in size anywhere from three to thirteen feet tall (0.9 to 4 meters) depending on which of about 20 different species they were.
- The long neck of the Moa is probably its most distinctive feature. In contrast, its head was small with a stout and triangular bill.
- Except for its feet, the Moa was covered in rough, furry feathers that were believed to have been shades of brown or black.
- Moas had no tail.
Moa Bird Extinction Facts
- Scientists believe that the end of the Moa Bird species occurred around 1400 A.D., less than 200 years after the arrival of humans on New Zealand.
- Humans were responsible for destroying the forests, the Moa's natural habitat.
- Humans hunted the Moa for food and ate the eggs in excess causing one of the fastest rates of extinction among animals on record.
- Items such as clothing, jewelry and tools such as harpoon heads and fish hooks were all made by the Maori from dead Moas.