One of our team’s favorite birds featured this week. We’re seeing quite a few out on Lake Mapourika recently. We hear their wings flapping madly as they push off for flight from a nearby Kahikatea tree … Read on for more about this Native NZ Bird!
New Zealand currently has 2 species of Native Pigeon; The New Zealand Pigeon which has 3 names in Maori (depending on the area). You may hear the New Zealand Pigeon referred to as kererū, or if you happen to be in Northland then kūkū or kūkupa may be more common. The other species of Pigeon native to New Zealand is the Chatham Islands pigeon.
Kererū (as we refer to the Pigeon here on the Coast) have been known to be as large as 51cm from tail to tip and can weigh in at well over half a kilo! Now that’s a big bird!
They are now the only species of bird native to New Zealand able to swallow (and disperse) the fruit and seeds of several native plant species such as the Karaka (or New Zealand Laurel). Kererū are also the predominant spread for our giant Kahikatea tree seeds. Our forests would suffer greatly without this unique bird. The Wood Pigeon used to share these duties with the now extinct Moa.
The kererū mostly eat fruit – often gorging themselves on berries in the summer. The kererū are sometimes seen falling from trees, drunk, when they eat too much fermenting fruit! Locals have been told to keep watch for drunken kererū during warm summers.
The New Zealand Pigeon breeds slowly, nesting in spring or early summer and having only one egg per nest, the kererū is as vulnerable to predation by introduced pests as many of New Zealand’s native species. The population of the kererū is declining gradually due to predation, loss of native habitats, competition for food from introduced species and hunting (though hunting this bird is now illegal).
The Department of Conservation is offering education to help prevent the illegal hunting of this bird, as well as encouraging people to control predators in their area and protect nests by banding trees if found.
For further information on the conservation or the kererū, go to http://www.projectkereru.org.nz/
We’re starting to see more and more as we come into spring! A brilliant time to be on the coast to see some birdlife.