(Most active June to December)

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TUI(Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)– (other less known name Parson Bird)

Perhaps NZ’s best know songbird.  The feathers may appear black or reflect metallic and iridescent greens, purples and blues.  They have a tuft of white feathers on their throats.

Tuis are noisy fliers and occasionally perform acrobatic flight, darting about at high spped and plunging with closed wings.  They seek nectar in native and exotic plants.  They are known for their melodious song, however humans miss, much as it is pitched in a frequency beyond our hearing.  We do hear a wide repertoire of chimes, musical rifts, wheezes and other noises “poured forth in profusion”.

Description:  sexes alike with female slightly smaller.  Mainly iridescent green with dark bluish purple reflections appearing black from a distance.  Back and sides of neck ornamented with white shafted filamentous feathers which curl forwards on sides of neck. Back and wing converts to brown with bronze reflections.  White wing bar.  White double throat tuft of curled feathers.  Belly and sides reddish brown.  Curved bill and feet blackish brown.

Female as smaller throat-tufts, and paler reddish brown abdomen.

Immature plumage slay black, except wing and tail quills which have metallic green outer webs; a crescentic mark or extensive patch of greyish white on the throat; dusky white wing-bar. White throat tuft from about 6 weeks.  Lacks wing slots.

Movements are vigorous and flight is often noise especially when darting through the trees at a high speed; performs aerobatics, often plunging down with closed wings from some height.

Voice: Contains relatively pure frequency bell-like notes; harsher clonks, rattles, wheezes, chuckles and clicks, and quiet squeaks.  Covers wide frequent range, with higher frequency notes inaudible to human ears.   Both male and female sing, but male more vociferous.  Mimics many noises, from human speech, whistles and pig spueals to other birds! Alarm calls extremely guttural and include beak clicking.  Chicks and fledglings give high frequency begging calls.

The Tui is renowned for its variable songs.  It sings from high in trees, where it perches with its body feathers fluffed and its tongue partly extended.  It is the first bird to sing in the morning and the last to finish at night, beginning before dawn and not stopping until after dusk.  On moonlit nights, it may continue singing!
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KERERU(Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)

The kereru is the largest pigeon in New Zealand.  The head, throat, upper breast and upperparts are a metallic green with purplish sheen.  The upper breast is shaped like a babies bib and clearly stands out against the pristine white of the lower breast and underparts.  The bill is crimson with an orange tip and both the eye and feet are crimson.  The call is a soft penetrating 'kuu'.  Kererū are about 51 centimetres long and 650 grams in weight.


Kererū eat the fruit of native plants such as miro, tawa, pūriri, taraire, kahikatea, nīkau and coprosma, and introduced plants like privet, elderberry and plums. When fruit is scarce most birds also eat leaves, favouring kōwhai, tree lucerne, willow and poplar.

Now that other large birds like the moa are extinct, the kereru is the only bird left with a beak that can open wide enough to swallow the big seeds of trees such as puriri, miro, taraire, karaka, tawa and kohekohe.

They also eat the fruit of nikau, titoki, pigeonwood, supplejack, kahikatea and many shrub species and in spring the leaves and flowers of houhere and kowhai, feeding on a total of 72 native species.

Undigested seeds eaten by the kereru fall to the ground in its droppings, where they sprout and grow - often many kilometres from the parent tree. These birds can fly long distances (up to 25 kilometres). This spreads the seeds of native species far and wide, helping our native forests to regenerate.

Breeding is between September and  February and is timed to coincide with certain fruits being available.  The nest is a flimsy affair, often a precariously balanced platform of sticks on a horizontal fork.  Often the egg or chick can be seen from the ground through the nest. Both adults incubate for about 30 days and the young kereru fledge at between 30 - 45 days old.

Māori hunted kererū, but since 1922 the birds have been protected.

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PUKEKOPorphyrio porphyrio melanotus     Swamp hen

The pukeko is deep blue with a black head and upperparts.  The white undertail is flicked with every step.  The bill and shield are scarlet, the eye red and the legs and feet are orange – red.  The call is a loud unmusical screech and also a subdued musical ‘tuk – tuk’.

Pukeko mainly feed on swamp and pasture vegetation.  Also insects, spiders, frogs, small birds and eggs.  Shoots are held in the foot like a parrot and stripped or macerated by the powerful bill. 

Breeding is mainly between August and March.  Nests are built on a tussock or rush clump, with the grass or rushes being beaten down into a platform.  Territories are often occupied by groups and two or more females may lay in the same nest.  The incubation of 23 – 27 days is shared by all.  Each female lays 4 – 6 buff eggs with brown blotches at the larger end.  All birds, including non – breeding helpers ( offspring from previous broods) help in feeding and caring for the chicks. 

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FANTAILRhipidura fuliginosa placabilis     Piwakawaka

The fantail is a small native forest bird with a small head and bill and a long tail which opens to a fan, thus giving the bird its name.  It has a grey head, white eyebrow and white and black band under the chin on the upper chest.  The back is brown and the underparts are a peachy gold.  The tail is black and white.  The juvenile looks very similar but lacks the upper chest markings and has a browner body and rusty-brown wing coverts.  There is a black phase which is found mainly in the South Island, which is sooty black except for a white spot behind the eye.

Fantails feed mainly on invertebrates taken whilst flying.  Using their fanned tail they are very manoeuverable which helps them quickly change direction whilst flycatching.  They are known to hop around upside down in amongst tree ferns and foliage looking to pick insects from the underside of leaves.  Their main prey are moths, flies, spiders, wasps, and beetles. They seldom feed on the ground.

Although the fantail lifespan is relatively short in New Zealand (oldest recorded 3 yrs but in Australia they have been recorded up to 10 yrs) the breed survives due to the prolific and early breeding.  Juvenile males can start breeding between 2-9 months old and as many as 5 clutches can be laid in one season, with between 2-5 eggs per clutch.  The fantails stay in pairs all year but high mortality means they seldom survive more than a season.  Both adults incubate for about 14 days and the chicks fledge at about 13 days.  Both adults will feed the young but as soon as the female starts building the next nest the male takes over the role of feeding the previous brood.

The main fantail contact call is a penetrating cheet cheet, sounding a bit like a squeaky toy.




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Morkpork (Ruru) fledgeling in Tim's safe hands.