New Zealand The Native Pigeon a Rare Sighting
The Rare Native Wood Pigeon
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