The white heron (or kötuku) has always been rare in New Zealand and it has attained almost mythical status, revered by both Mäori and pakeha for its elegant white feathers. This graceful bird has long, slender legs and a long, thin S-shaped neck, which has a distinct kink when flying. When breeding, long, loose breeding plumes grow from its back and wings, the normally yellow bill turns dull black, and the facial skin between the eye and bill brightens to a bluish-green.
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