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.
I 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.
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.
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: http://www.birdway.com.au/spheniscidae/fjordland_penguin/index.htm.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au
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 Doves and Pigeon Photos – Columbidae Family
New Zealand Pigeon – NZ Birds Online
New Zealand Pigeon – ARKive
New Zealand Pigeon – Wikipedia