Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pigeon

New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) by Ian

Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pigeon ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 12/24/13

Well, Christmas is nearly on us and I’ve put up the ‘icicle’ Christmas lights beside the almost too-warm pool (29ºC), so I thought a bird photo including some real Southern Hemisphere snow would be correspondingly inappropriate. This proved difficult as I usually avoid the snow and the best candidate, the Kea of New Zealand was bird of the week two years ago even though the snow was incidental to the story about Keas’ passion for dismantling motor vehicles.

So I settled for this one of New Zealand Pigeon. The three-pronged smudge above its head is snow, believe it or not, and it’s actually the isolated three-pointed star visible above and to the right of the main tree in the second photo – taken at about the same time and place in the spectacular surroundings of Milford Sound in the Fiordland of the south west of the South Island.

New Zealand - Milford Sound by IanI was there one evening to book a place on an early cruise the next morning to search for fiordland penguins, and having done so went for a stroll and encountered various local inhabitants including Paradise Shelduck, New Zealand Pigeons and, near the car park, a Weka. the third photo shows the same pigeon on the same branch from a better angle and you can see the beautiful purple and green iridescence of the plumage contrasting with the snow-white belly. With a length to 50cm/20in and a weight up to 800g/28oz, these are large birds, as big or bigger than Imperial-Pigeons, Wompoo Fruit-Doves and Eurasian Wood Pigeons.

New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) by Ian

They’re very confiding, and this one and its mate, sitting on another branch in the same tree, just watched me as I walked around them taking photos from different angles. They look plump and gastronomically appealing, so it’s not surprising that the population declined after human settlement until protection was granted in 1921. The Norfolk Island sub-species wasn’t so lucky: it was still around in the 1830s but there have been no records since 1900.

New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) by Ian

The following morning dawned bright and sunny, last photo, and a very obliging cruise-boat captain found me a pair of nesting Fiordland Penguins within 10 minutes of leaving the jetty and took us almost alarming close so that I could get some photos:

New Zealand - Milford Sound by Ian

Now there’s some real snow on the mountains on the left. I wish you a safe and peaceful Christmas and an enjoyable and enriching 2014.

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737
Bird Photos
Recorder Society

Lee’s Addition:

Thanks, Ian, and Merry Christmas to you. I like the clean line between the green and the white on its breast. (Could have used it for the birds series.)

It appears that Ian gets around quite a bit lately. Since he started helping with that book, his search for certain birds has intensified. All for our benefit. We get to enjoy his great photographs of some very neat species.

I trust you enjoy reading his newsletters about his birdwatching adventures as well as I enjoy them. To see all of his articles here:

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Doves and Pigeon Photos – Columbidae Family

New Zealand Pigeon – NZ Birds Online

New Zealand Pigeon – ARKive

New Zealand Pigeon – Wikipedia


2 thoughts on “Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pigeon

  1. What a legacy the dove family has for the children of Adam! At Mary’s purification (after Christ’s circumcision) the ceremonial offering included representation from the dove family (Luke 2:24), and at the baptism of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17) the Holy Spirit descended “like a dove”. Noah used a dove to determine that the Flood had sufficiently assuaged. The name “Jonah” means “dove” in Hebrew, and Jonah brought God’s message to the Ninevites.


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