New Zealand The Native Pigeon a Rare Sighting

The Rare Native Wood Pigeon

The Native Pigeon or Kereru in Maori. My water color
The Native Pigeon or Kereru in Maori. My water color
The Magic bird in our Garden     Photo courtesy David Belton
The Magic bird in our Garden Photo courtesy David Belton

The Native Pigeon Kereru in Maori Language

The Native New Zealand Pigeon used to be a very common bird, but sadly because of the destruction of its habitat and the fact that early settlers found it so tasty its presence has sadly declined. The Pigeon likes to live in broad leaved forests but the continued planting of Radiata pines as a renewable source of wood has caused the old forest of New Zealand native trees to be grubbed out and replaced with formal ranks of Pines. These Radiata pines, which are in fact the Monterey pine of America are religiously trimmed to produce a tall single trunk with its lower limbs cut off. Pigeons do not live in these man made forests.The Pigeon is frugivarious that is, it is mainly a fruit eater. It loves the fruits of the old native forest and is the only bird big enough to eat their fruits and aid in sowing their seeds in its droppings. Without the Pigeon, the forests would ultimately be doomed. It only lays one, long, white egg in its nest at a time but if there is plentiful fruit supply it may nest perhaps up to four times in a year. This mainly happens in the North of New Zealand where tropical fruits can grow.

The native Pigeon or Kereru is much larger than the ubiquitous pigeon found in public places world wide, and much prettier. It is a stately looking bird unless it has been feasting on the fruits of the Puriru, which cause it to become quite tipsy. This manifests itself in crazy aerial displays. After gorging on fruit it was noticed that the bird sought water to drink. Early settlers caught the bird by placing bowls of water underneath its food trees with a noose around them. When the poor old pigeon stooped gratefully to drink, the noose was pulled tight and the poor old pigeon ended up in the pot. Even as far back as the1860's the hunting of the Kereru was banned, in vain.

Because of the nature of my business, I have been fortunate enough to be a frequent visitor to this amazing country. While visiting the local pub, I picked up a current copy of the village newspaper. In it was an article about the Native Pigeon and how the writer had not seen one in over twenty years, but in early January had spotted one in the local woods. The next day I set out for the local woods and tried in vain to spot the rare bird, but to no avail. The very next day I was taking in the view of Lake Taupo where I was staying and to my astonishment a large bird settled in a tree in the garden. It was the very bird I had been seeking, the Kereru! I called everyone to come and look at it and it became much photographed during the twenty minutes it spent in our garden. A week later it has still not returned . We live in hope that the Native Pigeon is making a comeback despite all the hazards of modern life.

How fortunate I was to see this rare bird that many New Zealanders had not seen in their life times and many for over twenty years! I was inspired to paint this amazing bird . Check out my other hubs on New Zealand if you fancy a quick tour of these enchanting islands



The Kereru or Native Pigeon

All photos courtesy Flickr Thank you
All photos courtesy Flickr Thank you
Some of New Zealands other Native Birds
Some of New Zealands other Native Birds

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for a great informative hub. I AM GLAD THAT DREW ATTENTION TO THIS.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thank for dropping by Hello Hello. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub,


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

This is a great hub Gypsy Willow, and it it good that people are drawing the attention to their plight. Thank you for sharing this hub with us.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

They are beautiful birds that need to be saved. Without the Pigeon, future native forests are endangered too. Thanks for your supportive comment


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 6 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Oy, that video was horrible, but what a fascinating article. I have never heard of a tropical pigeon, it's really amazing what variety exists in the world.

I think it's neat you probably saw the last one in existence, let's hope where there's one, there're many more.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Alexander, It's not related to the pigeon seen in town squares everywhere either but completely different genus. I put the video in as light note in a hub that many would find not very interesting! Glad you found it fascinating! There have been sightings in the native forests of the South Island Thanks for dropping by. New Zealand is full of interesting animals and many flightless birds because they didn't need to fly before man came to the islands and the flightless Moa a giant bird standing 10 ft tall, quickly met its demise.


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

Hi Gypsy Willow, It seems to be all too common of a theme these days. We human beings move in and start cutting things down and moving them all around and next thing you know, we've nearly destroyed another species. It's happening everywhere- an entire species of reptiles obliterated in order to put in a development, here, something else there.

Oops. Sorry about that. On a lighter note, it is a beautiful bird, and you are lucky to have seen it. Your efforts here are much appreciated.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Hi Linda! "Alice in Wonderland" was always ruined for me once I realised the poor old Dodo was extinct. How sad. Thanks for reading and your pertinent comment. It has been lucky for me to have seen this beautiful bird.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

What a beautiful bird. You know, they taste like chicken! I'm pulling your leg. I'm mostly vegetarian and frugivore. Thank you for introducing me to a very beautiful bird.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment Micky. The problem is that the poor old pigeon is very tasty and once you had run out of Moas, what are you to do. Hopefully they will make a come back. Every one was very excited at the sighting but I'm only telling vegetarians (and frugivores)


ElizaDoole profile image

ElizaDoole 4 years ago from London

Thanks for featuring this bird it is a really pretty bird. It is so sad about the habitat destruction. Thanks for bringing these issues to the attention of us all. It is important to conserve our animals.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand Author

I so agree Eliza. These are now protected so slowly making a comeback. Their downfall is that they are apparently very tasty! Thanks for the comment.

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