The Kagu is a ground-living bird about the size of a chicken found in the forests and shrubland of New Caledonia. Its plumage is unusually bright for a bird of the forest floor; ash-grey and white coloured. It possesses powder downs which help keep it dry and insulate it in New Caledonia's tropical climate. It uses its crest to display to other members of the species. It is nearly flightless, using its wings for displays (its primary wing feathers are patterned), and for moving quickly through the forest. It can also use them to glide when fleeing danger. The wings are not reduced in size like some other flightless birds, but they lack the musculature for flight. It possesses bright red legs and a similarly coloured bill, and has large eyes, positioned so that they give good binocular vision which is helpful in finding prey in the leaf litter and seeing in the gloom of the forest. There is little sexual dimorphism beyond a difference in the amount of barring in the primary feathers. It possesses 'nasal corns', structures covering its nostrils, which are a feature not shared by any other bird. It is these structures that gave the species its generic name, Rhynochetos, which is derived from the Greek rhis meaning nose and chetos meaning corn. Another unique characteristic of the species is that has only one-third the red blood cells and three times the hemoglobin per RBC compared to the usual situation in birds. The Kagu is carnivorous - it mainly eats earthworms, but also woodlice, insects, spiders, snails, centipedes, lizards, and fish.
The Kagu is endemic to the Montane Forests of New Caledonia. It is threatened by introduced, pigs, rats, dogs, and cats, who eat the Kagu's young and its eggs. With a low population, and a restricted distribution, the Kagu is rated as "Endangered" by the IUCN, with populations stable (neither declicing or increasing).