Kereru in Queenstown, NZ
The Kereru is by far the biggest and fattest pigeon EVER! Or at least it seems that way. The bird is about the size of a grouse, only fatter! This species would never have made it as a carrier pigeon.
We spotted our first Kereru in the trees of a city park in Queenstown, New Zealand, while it was munching away at the flowers and fruit. It also made a soft coo call. The name ‘Kereru’ may be onomatopoetic with its call, but having only heard a few hoots, it was hard to say exactly what word would most resemble the call. Once I got a bead on the bird, its bright green throat and white stomach were instantly recognizable, yet it blended in with the leaves in the trees, which provided some surprisingly effective camouflage.
We got another look at this bird up close and personal at the Kiwi Park in Queenstown, where a few were kept (and well-fed) in the airy cages. Seeing the bird at such close range allowed us to examine the bird’s grey eye ring and bright red-orange eyes. We also examined its bright red beak, which was less clearly visible “in the wild” environs of the city park (immediately above).
This ceremonial bird holds a special place in the lives of the native Maori people, and it is only found in New Zealand. The Maori named the bird, Kereru, which is sometimes translated to mean Wood Pigeon, but it is from a different species than the Pigeon of other parts of the world. The NZ species, once very numerous, is now federally protected as its numbers have shrunk to endangered levels.
One particular thought on it’s endangered status: the bird is easy to track, easy to spot, and easy to hunt. It presents a great target and probably would have been hunted to extinction if not federally protected from man.