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New Zealand's 7 Most Popular Native Birds New Zealand's 7 Most Popular Native Birds

Posted on by Lesley Armstrong
New Zealand is home to an interesting range of indigenous bird life, some of which are flightless or near flightless.  As a result of being flightless, some of our bird life has been hunted into extinction, such as the Moa bird.  Others, such as our Kiwi bird, face extinction if we cannot eradicate harmful introduced pests, like the Possum.​
The information here relates to just a few of the birds you can see whilst in New Zealand.

The Kiwi - Apteryx australis
The Brown Kiwi (pronounced"key-wee") is our national symbol, a flightless nocturnal bird found predominantly in northern and western parts of the nation, as well as Stewart Island. Outer islands are being used more and more to grow the population, as on those islands we can eradicate their predators, the rats, stoats, and possums.

The Kiwi is quite unique. Its nostrils are at the end of its long beak, which it prods into the ground to forage for worms, grubs and berries. It digs its nest within dense forest vegetation, often making a burrow in a bank or under a log. It normally lays one very large egg.

kiwi bird

For all Kiwi gifts, including homewares, toys and jewellery, click here>>>

Tui- Prosthemada novaeseelandiae
The Tui ( pronounced"to-ee") appears to be black when it flies above you in the forest, but in fact has plumage of dark bronze, green and purple. What makes it particularly gorgeous is its tuft of white feathers at the throat, which is why it is also called the Parson Bird.
The tui loves to drink the nectar from flowers and bushes, particularly flax and kowhai flowers. It also likes fruit, which is why you can see him in your garden, loudly chasing away other birds. We love them to chase away the (introduced) Mynah birds, as the Tui's song is far more beautiful than a Mynah bird's squawk. The Tui has an unusual song, too hard to describe here. One minute he might be making a squeaking or croaking noise, and the next he is into a much more beautiful, resonating sound.
If you ever come to Whangarei, you should go see "Woof'-Woof" at the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre.  When you stand outside his cage, you would swear the manager of the centre, Robert Webb, was talking to you through an intercom.  But no, it's Woof-Woof repeating some of Robert's conversations.  Just bits of conversations, so you feel like you're listening to a faulty intercom.  And the voice - a perfectly ordinary man's voice coming out of the beak of a tui!!! 
tui bird

For all Tui gifts, click here>>>

Fantail - Rhipidura fuliginosa
The Fantail (piwakawaka - pronounced "pea-wuk-ah-wuk-ah") is a small bird and a favourite in our garden. It seems to fly in when we walk out into the garden, daringly flitting around our heads.
The bird feeds exclusively on insects, caught in flight. They are very quick, flitting about and not staying still for more than a few seconds. The use of their tail ( up and down, spread and shut) allows them to turn and twist and follow their prey.

nz fantail bird piwakawaka

For all Fantail gifts, click here>>>

Wood Pigeon - Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
The Wood Pigeon, Maori name "Kereru" ( pronounced Ke as in "kept", re as in "rest", ru as in "ruby"), is a large bird by New Zealand standards, and a beauty too. It has a white belly, with the upper feathers and chest being irridescent shades of blue, green and purple.
In pre-European days, Kereru were trapped by the Maori, as they were an important food source in a country lacking in mammals. The bird is now protected. It feeds mostly on forest berries, and they are vital to the ecology of our forests, as they spread the seeds of many species.
In July 2005, Kereru were found in suburban Whangarei ( where I live), aimlessly lying on the ground or precariously perched in low-lying branches. The cause of this peculiar behaviour was traced to what they were eating. A harsh winter had meant fewer forest berries, so the birds had "come to town" to eat. They chose guava fruit, which unfortunately fermented in their stomachs and made them drunk! The birds were captured and taken to a local Bird Recovery Centre until they detoxed.

nz wood pigeon kereru

For all wood pigeon gifts, click here>>>

Pukeko - Porphyrio porphyrio
The Pukeko, (pronounced Pu as "poo", ke as in "kept", ko as "core") seems a rather daft bird, hanging out around the roadside and frequently meeting their end under the tyres of a car. They certainly haven't adapted to modern man. But what they have adapted to is the loss of swampland, their natural habitat, and instead they frequent the swampy drainage ditches alongside the roads.
The birds live together in a group, and will collectively defend their territory against predators such as stoats and rats. Their plumage is black feathers at the back, with a beautiful blue at the front, and big, gawky red legs. 

pukeko

For all pukeko gifts, click here>>>

Kea - Nestor Nostabilis
The Kea, pronounced "key-ah", is a large and very intelligent native parrot, found in the forests and alpine areas of the South Island.  It has predominantly olive green plumage and a grey beak, but when they fly you get to see their beautiful orange plumage underneath the wings.
Whilst they feed on a variety of food, including other birds, berries and insects, they are also drawn to areas that humans frequent, and will happily pry open rubbish bins looking for food.  They enjoy ripping the rubber off around car doors and windows, and in 2021 I was told that an employee at Milford Sound went to work in the morning, came back to his car in the evening, drove off, only for his windscreen to fall off.  Kea had been at work all day, removing the rubber trim!

kea bird

For all kea gifts, click here>>>

Kakapo - Strigops habroptilus
The Kakapo (pronounced "car-car-pour") is the world's only flightless parrot, and is largely nocturnal.  It is a large parrot, with yellowish green feathers.  Because it does not fly, making it susceptible to predation by mammals, the kakapo is endangered, and its remaining population has been shifted to predator-free offshore islands.

kakapo bird

For all kakapo gifts, click here>>>

 

New Zealand is home to an interesting range of indigenous bird life, some of which are flightless or near flightless.  As a result of being flightless, some of our bird life has been hunted into extinction, such as the Moa bird.  Others, such as our Kiwi bird, face extinction if we cannot eradicate harmful introduced pests, like the Possum.​
The information here relates to just a few of the birds you can see whilst in New Zealand.

The Kiwi - Apteryx australis
The Brown Kiwi (pronounced"key-wee") is our national symbol, a flightless nocturnal bird found predominantly in northern and western parts of the nation, as well as Stewart Island. Outer islands are being used more and more to grow the population, as on those islands we can eradicate their predators, the rats, stoats, and possums.

The Kiwi is quite unique. Its nostrils are at the end of its long beak, which it prods into the ground to forage for worms, grubs and berries. It digs its nest within dense forest vegetation, often making a burrow in a bank or under a log. It normally lays one very large egg.

kiwi bird

For all Kiwi gifts, including homewares, toys and jewellery, click here>>>

Tui- Prosthemada novaeseelandiae
The Tui ( pronounced"to-ee") appears to be black when it flies above you in the forest, but in fact has plumage of dark bronze, green and purple. What makes it particularly gorgeous is its tuft of white feathers at the throat, which is why it is also called the Parson Bird.
The tui loves to drink the nectar from flowers and bushes, particularly flax and kowhai flowers. It also likes fruit, which is why you can see him in your garden, loudly chasing away other birds. We love them to chase away the (introduced) Mynah birds, as the Tui's song is far more beautiful than a Mynah bird's squawk. The Tui has an unusual song, too hard to describe here. One minute he might be making a squeaking or croaking noise, and the next he is into a much more beautiful, resonating sound.
If you ever come to Whangarei, you should go see "Woof'-Woof" at the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre.  When you stand outside his cage, you would swear the manager of the centre, Robert Webb, was talking to you through an intercom.  But no, it's Woof-Woof repeating some of Robert's conversations.  Just bits of conversations, so you feel like you're listening to a faulty intercom.  And the voice - a perfectly ordinary man's voice coming out of the beak of a tui!!! 
tui bird

For all Tui gifts, click here>>>

Fantail - Rhipidura fuliginosa
The Fantail (piwakawaka - pronounced "pea-wuk-ah-wuk-ah") is a small bird and a favourite in our garden. It seems to fly in when we walk out into the garden, daringly flitting around our heads.
The bird feeds exclusively on insects, caught in flight. They are very quick, flitting about and not staying still for more than a few seconds. The use of their tail ( up and down, spread and shut) allows them to turn and twist and follow their prey.

nz fantail bird piwakawaka

For all Fantail gifts, click here>>>

Wood Pigeon - Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae
The Wood Pigeon, Maori name "Kereru" ( pronounced Ke as in "kept", re as in "rest", ru as in "ruby"), is a large bird by New Zealand standards, and a beauty too. It has a white belly, with the upper feathers and chest being irridescent shades of blue, green and purple.
In pre-European days, Kereru were trapped by the Maori, as they were an important food source in a country lacking in mammals. The bird is now protected. It feeds mostly on forest berries, and they are vital to the ecology of our forests, as they spread the seeds of many species.
In July 2005, Kereru were found in suburban Whangarei ( where I live), aimlessly lying on the ground or precariously perched in low-lying branches. The cause of this peculiar behaviour was traced to what they were eating. A harsh winter had meant fewer forest berries, so the birds had "come to town" to eat. They chose guava fruit, which unfortunately fermented in their stomachs and made them drunk! The birds were captured and taken to a local Bird Recovery Centre until they detoxed.

nz wood pigeon kereru

For all wood pigeon gifts, click here>>>

Pukeko - Porphyrio porphyrio
The Pukeko, (pronounced Pu as "poo", ke as in "kept", ko as "core") seems a rather daft bird, hanging out around the roadside and frequently meeting their end under the tyres of a car. They certainly haven't adapted to modern man. But what they have adapted to is the loss of swampland, their natural habitat, and instead they frequent the swampy drainage ditches alongside the roads.
The birds live together in a group, and will collectively defend their territory against predators such as stoats and rats. Their plumage is black feathers at the back, with a beautiful blue at the front, and big, gawky red legs. 

pukeko

For all pukeko gifts, click here>>>

Kea - Nestor Nostabilis
The Kea, pronounced "key-ah", is a large and very intelligent native parrot, found in the forests and alpine areas of the South Island.  It has predominantly olive green plumage and a grey beak, but when they fly you get to see their beautiful orange plumage underneath the wings.
Whilst they feed on a variety of food, including other birds, berries and insects, they are also drawn to areas that humans frequent, and will happily pry open rubbish bins looking for food.  They enjoy ripping the rubber off around car doors and windows, and in 2021 I was told that an employee at Milford Sound went to work in the morning, came back to his car in the evening, drove off, only for his windscreen to fall off.  Kea had been at work all day, removing the rubber trim!

kea bird

For all kea gifts, click here>>>

Kakapo - Strigops habroptilus
The Kakapo (pronounced "car-car-pour") is the world's only flightless parrot, and is largely nocturnal.  It is a large parrot, with yellowish green feathers.  Because it does not fly, making it susceptible to predation by mammals, the kakapo is endangered, and its remaining population has been shifted to predator-free offshore islands.

kakapo bird

For all kakapo gifts, click here>>>

 

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