Kererū/New Zealand Pigeon

Hemiphaga novaeseelandia

Physical Description

The Kererū, also known as the New Zealand Pigeon, is a large, vibrant bird with a distinctive appearance. They have a plump body, white belly, and iridescent green or blue-green feathers on their back and wings. The head and neck have a metallic sheen and a small crest on the top. Kererū have a slow, heavy flight and make a distinctive whooshing sound as they fly.

Habitat and Range

Kererū are found throughout New Zealand, including the North and South Islands and offshore islands. They inhabit various environments, including forests, coastal areas, and suburban gardens. They are particularly associated with native forests where their preferred food sources are abundant.

Feeding Habits

Kererū are primarily herbivorous birds with a diet consisting of leaves, fruits, flowers, and buds. They are crucial in seed dispersal, especially for native trees like karaka, tawa, and puriri. Their ability to consume large fruits and pass the seeds through their digestive system helps regenerate forests.

Breeding and Nesting

Kererū forms monogamous pairs during the breeding season. They build relatively flimsy nests made of twigs, placed in the forks of trees or on horizontal branches. The female usually lays a single white egg, and both parents participate in incubation and caring for the chick.

Conservation Status

The Kererū is classified as a protected species in New Zealand. While their population is relatively stable, they face threats such as predation by introduced mammals, habitat loss, and collisions with human-made structures like windows and power lines. Conservation efforts focus on predator control, habitat preservation, and raising awareness about their importance in ecosystems.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Kererū are attracted to various native trees and plants that provide them with essential food sources. They feed on the leaves, fruits, and flowers of trees such as tawa, karaka, puriri, kahikatea, and nikau palms. These trees often have large fruit or fleshy parts that Kererū easily consumes.

Interesting Facts

  • Kererū are known for their distinctive, deep-throated, and repetitive cooing sound, often described as "coo-koo-koo."
  • They are one of the only birds in New Zealand capable of ingesting and dispersing large seeds from native trees, contributing to forest regeneration.
  • Kererū are considered taonga (treasures) in Māori culture and are protected under the Wildlife Act. They hold cultural significance as a symbol of fertility and peace.
  • The Kererū is the only surviving species of the Hemiphaga genus, making it a unique and essential part of New Zealand's avian diversity.