Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I got a postcard today from my sister Jawsy, who is in New Zealand for a year. The postcard had six photos of the birds of New Zealand. My favourite one was this one called Kakapo, Maori for Night Parrot.

Jawsy said she would need to stay awake all night to see it. I did some Google research and found out she would need to become a conservation volunteer to see real live Kakapo's! They were decimated on all the main Islands of NZ, and are being kept in predator free conservation islands away from the mainland.
There are only aproximately 120 Birds alive in these enclaves. The Maori's hunted them, as did the British later. They are heavy set with sharp claws and beak, but do not fight off predators. They stay still and try to blend into the background. The introduced predators from the migrants began to decimate their numbers.
The Males hold court in Leks (like male Stags in the Scottish Highlands), hollows with good acoustics near to trees or grass banks, booming with their voices to attract females. Alas hunters could work out where they were by the noise, from upto 5km away with the wind carrying the boom.
They are flightless, and became nocturnal to avoid daytime predators like the now extinct Golden Eagle. They can live to between 95 to 120 years which is amazing levity in a bird.
From the 1980's there has been an ongoing effort to stop the species becoming extinct. It is a good study for conserving what is unique in nature, and shows how direct intervention sometimes is necesary to keep a species going (ie Handfeeding chicks when the main fruit failed, they starved to death in the first few years before the conservationist realised action was needed.)
As of April 2009 there were 125 Kakapo..

Today it has poured down with heavy rain. The waterbutts are overflowing. We need to buy another one. Once you start trying to save something (ie rainwater) you realise how much of it is not utilised. Its pure simplicity to put downpipes from roofs to catch water, for gardening and for replenishing ponds.
The photo shows the Starling baby, and a House Sparrow sharing the fatballs by the Narnia light.
Today I have seen Magpies holding court on the fatballs, a pair of loved up Collared Doves, Goldfinches, a male Greenfinch, House Sparrows, and Starlings.
Thank goodness that some New Zealanders realised how special the worlds heaviest, flightless Parrot was, and made steps to try and continue its gene pool.
It makes you appreciate the birds in your own garden, and how dull it would be without their feathered colours, and songs.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

What fantastic looking birds! Ingenious of them to amplify their voices in the cave.... but such a shame it drew fatal attention!