Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NZ Birds

This post is for World Bird Wednesday.

Trip Part 6

Every country has some special birds and New Zealand is no exception. I was fortunate to see some of them - and unfortunate to miss some of the birds I remembered as fairly common when I grew up over there.
As we waited at the Homer Tunnel to drive through to Milford Sound a Kea came to investigate us - but it was only just getting light and we were in a hurry to get to our cruise on time so I didn't even try for photos. Later on while we were at Fox Glacier on the west coast I was lucky to see another one that certainly didn't mind posing for my camera. Kea are only found in forested and Alpine areas of South New Zealand. They are about 48cms or 19ins long. They are intelligent, inquisitive and very destructive. Scientists studying them found that they can quite easily master 2-part puzzles to get to food rewards. They can also master puzzles that require two of them to work together. We remembered one coming and sitting on the front of our car when we were children traveling with our parents all those years ago. It was attracted by some of the picnic our Mum had rested on the dash just inside the front windscreen. We children were delighted - but our Dad was much less so when the bird started pulling the windscreen wipers apart! The one we saw this time at the Fox Glacier was attracted by some people in the parking lot who were resting in chairs outside their camper with things scattered around on the ground. It then marched around looking for whatever might be in reach.
It even put on a display preening what appeared to be its mate.
And finally demonstrated just how loudly it could scream. The only thing we did not see was the beautiful orange color under its wings.
The Takahe is a large flightless bird belonging to the Rail family. It is 63cms or nearly 35ins long. There were four birds taken from the wild in 1898 and then no more seen for 50 years. It was assumed to be extinct but then in 1948 some were found in mountainous country in Fiordland in the South Island. Now, they are being bred in captivity and released into the wild. However, once again, it is a very slow process and there are only about 220 known birds today. The ones I saw and photographed were in the wildlife center run by the Department of conservation at Te Anau. It was raining while I was there and I was photographing through the wire of the enclosure so the photos are not good quality but I was pleased to even see these birds and getting photos was a bonus!

24 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

the kea has a dangerous looking beak! but such pretty scalloped feathers! lovely!

NewMexiKen said...

Very interesting photos and information about birds I will never hope to see.

HansHB said...

WOW, - awesome!
Perfect for WBW!

Gary said...

Beautiful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Andrew said...

Lovely images of a stunning little bird... you have some wonderful birds down under..

eileeninmd said...

Cool birds and great sightings, Mick! The Kea reminds me of a parrot? The beak looks dangerous. It is wonderful news that the Takahe is being breed and released. Wonderful post and I enjoyed your photos.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The keas are wonderful -- but back then when you were a kid, I bet your father was worried he'd bite - that bill looks wicked. I knew about the kea only from seeing the word in crossword puzzles. (If it's not an emu, it must be a kea ;>) ).

Never heard about the other one ever and it is wonderful. This is a great post for WBW -- I love learning in this painless (and beautiful) way.

FjÀllripan said...

Great photos of the beautiful kea! What a beak! :)

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Oh I have never heard of Keas, or seen images before now. How very lovely they are too! Great images. Thank you for sharing them with us~

Larry said...

Super shots of the Kea Mick. What a cool looking bird and yes, that beak looks pretty intimidating. The Takahe looks huge. What was the reason that it nearly became extinct? Habitat loss or hunting? Or what?

NatureFootstep said...

How cool is this. As far as I know Kea is rare today. And you got super-shots of it. I visited NZ about 15 years ago and I only saw his one once in captivity in a park.

Gillian Olson said...

I really love the Kea's colours; a great looking bird. The other bird (rail?) reminds me of an oversize Coot. Thanks,

Carletta said...

The Kea is a beautiful bird. Those green feathers are quite lovely. Would have loved to see the orange under the wings as well.
That Takahe is banded for everything isn't he! :)

heyBJK said...

Fantastic shots, Mick! Love that Kea! What a cool looking bird.

Stewart M said...

I always thought the Natural History of Australia was strange - and then I found New Zealand!

Nice post.

Stewart M

Nature Rambles said...

Fascinating post! Both birds are new to me. The kea looks vicious! About the Takahe...that's interesting. Glad to read/learn about another flightless bird.

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Beautiful birds.

Regards and best wishes

joo said...

The second shot is so sweet!

bailey-road.com said...

The Kea is a cheeky little bird. What a thrill to see such a rare bird as the Takahe!

Kathie Brown said...

Wow! What amazing birds! I love the feathers and the beaks on the Kea. That Takahe story is amazing! How we all wish we could tell the same story for our Ivory-billed woodpecker here! That Takahe looks like our common moorhen on steroids! I cannot even imagine how big it is at 35"!

Springman said...

Love that feather pattern and crazy detail. Good show!

Noushka said...

Fantastic!
I can't wait to get there and see them for myself!
In the meantime I admire your shots!
As all parrots, they mate for life, so I bet these 2 are mates!

Rohrerbot said...

I would love to see the Kea in the wild. I've heard so much about them. Thank you for sharing. You have us very interested in taking this trip next year.

Amila Kanchana said...

Unbelievable place, and those birds, Wow!