Friday, May 30, 2008

For the Birds

Kiwi Bird
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If you like birds, you’ll find plenty of birds in New Zealand. I like birds so much, one Chapter in RV in NZ: How to Spend Your Winters South in New Zealand is "For the Birds." New Zealand birds seem to have a sense of humor just like the Kiwis. Don’t expect a Kiwi bird to wander into camp mooching food. They’re nocturnal. Good sized birds, bigger than a chicken, with brown bristly feather, dark legs and a long pointy beak, they poke in the dirt in search of insects or fallen fruit.

The best place to see a Kiwi bird is in a bird sanctuary. If you’re near the Waitomo Glo Worm Caves, try the Otorohanga Kiwi House. In the South Island, try DOC’s Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Birds are in their native environment. You walk along the paths and climb platforms in the trees. The birds are not looking for a handout or trying to impress you.

The Moreporks are also nocturnal. These small owls have a distinct call. If you’re traveling by auto try a motel in a rural area. Open your window at night and listen to the Kiwis and Moreporks. If you’re RVing, flip open the vent over the bed, watch the stars and listen to the birds call back and forth through the bush.

My favorite bird is the Fantail. About the size of a chubby sparrow with an apricot breast and white ear patch, these show-offs, often in pairs or groups, tag along through the bush, zip past your nose, then sit on a branch and flip open their fan tail. Tell them how pretty they are and they’ll hop around so you can see the back view. It’s hard not to smile with a Fantail flashing you.

Tui birds, good singers, about the size of a crow, are dark greenish black with a metallic sheen,. They have a big white-feathery bump on their throats and white patches on their wings. These nectar stealers often hang around the motorparks, riding a big bouncing flower.

The Kea lives in the South Island high-country forests. About the size of a hawk, this olive green parrot with orange underwing is a good-looking bird– that’s a pest. Nosey and destructive, they’ll mess up anything you leave lying around. The stories told about these little buggers are funny, if it’s not your equipment they’ve destroyed.

If you like birds and want to learn more about them as you travel through New Zealand, buy Geoff Moon’s Common Birds in New Zealand. They’re inexpensive paperbacks and available at most bookstores or Visitor Information Centers. And don't be afraid to tramp through the bush with the fantails-- remember there's no creepy crawly things to bite you in New Zealand.
Lyn Harris

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand is a member of World Conservation Union and Birdlife International. The society's objectives are to preserve New Zealand's indigenous birds.
M.L. Ryder