Pretty Pukekos

The best thing about my weekend run is watching the pukekos frolic in the ponds.  New Zealand is rich with bird life and the pukeko is my favourite.  Last year a friend's parents visited New Zealand from the UK.  They loved their travels but were disappointed by the lack of wildlife.  Compared to our Aussie neighbours with their koalas and kangaroos, we are lacking in wildlife.  But we make up for this with our native birds.

Pukeko is the New Zealand name for the purple swamphen that thrives amongst the reeds, rushes and swamps.  I tried to get close enough to take a photo but they're pretty fast and kept running away from me, much to the amusement of nearby builders!  There are great pictures on the Department of Conservation website.

We live fairly far south of Auckland in an area that was once home to small farms.  The variety of birds that I see on my runs is diverse.  I can't say I ever noticed birds much before moving here, probably because I previously lived in such built up areas.  I've also often wondered what the novelty was for birdwatchers and ornithologists.  Now I understand - these creatures are fascinating.  Around our reserve we have fantails, bellbirds and silvereyes amongst others. 

Once, our neighbours threw down some hard wearing lawn seed.  The seed is coloured blue to deter the birds.  I watched as the birds swarmed down and ate the lawn seed, only to fly away once they realised they were being watched.  Sneaky!  Needless to say, the neighbours don't have much lawn left!!

Birds are a national theme in New Zealand.  We have birds on our money notes and coins, and a local beer called Tui (parson bird).

Of course, the most famous bird is the Kiwi which features on our $1 coins.  Souvenir shops have a wide selection of stuffed kiwis, magnets, mugs etc.  As a nation we go as the 'Kiwis', we have a Kiwibank, and KiwiSaver is the national pension savings scheme.  The bird itself is a taonga (treasure) to Maori.  Kiwis are flightless, nocturnal and the rarest of the 5 species is endangered. 

Click here to read more about the wonderful native birds of New Zealand.

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