This video shows Bubs Smith, a ranger with the Department of Conservation, explaining how some of the unique adaptations of whio help them survive in their environment. This video is a snippet from a video created as part of the Whio Forever resources. These were developed by DOC in partnership with Genesis Energy.
The unique adaptation of the bill is this fleshy membrane on the end there. It’s exactly like that piece of skin between your thumb and forefinger – exact same thickness, same texture and everything.
And what does he use that fleshy kind of bit on his bill for?
That’s what they use to actually feed and feel around the rocks with and that constant rubbing on the rocks would wear. The whio have developed this unique adaptation of this fleshy membrane on the end of their bill.
Look at their big webbed feet and you feel them – feel how warm they are – and there’s something special about them is that they have this unique adaptation. They’re called fold-away feet – no other duck has them. You watch when they push it forward, it closes up, and then when it push back, it opens up. That’s so that they can be streamlined in the water, so when they go forward, they’ve got no water resistance – it’s only got that big toe – and then when they push it back, it opens up.
The other unique thing is this streamlined shaped head so the water just runs right off it.
Whio Forever, Department of Conservation and Genesis Energy.