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Huia – September

The huia was the largest of New Zealand’s wattlebird species. Sadly, the introduction of mammalian predators, and to a lesser extent human hunting, lead to the demise and ultimate extinction of huia around the 1920s.

They showed the most dramatic sexual dimorphism of any bird species, with large difference in the size and shape of the bills of male and female birds. Huia lived in forested areas, where they used their bills to feed on wood-dwelling insects and their larvae. It is thought that they were distributed widely throughout the North Island, but that they were absent from the South Island.

The unique tail feathers of the huia were a prized possession by Maori, and worn as a sign of status and the birds themselves were also popular as museum pieces and collectors’ items.

Even though the huia is sadly now gone from our native bush, you can always have a huia in your garden with a Blazen.Metal huia bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or insect inlay. 25% off for the month of September.

Bibliography

Szabo, M.J. 2013. Huia. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

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Robin – August

New Zealand has three species of robin, the North Island; South Island; and black robin – found on the Chatham Islands. The black robin made a famous comeback from the brink of extinction – with Old Blue being the only surviving female able to lay fertile eggs. 

Their seemingly curious nature is more about foraging, as the birds come close to feed on the insects disturbed by your footprints. Robins will also feed on insect larvae, earthworms and spiders, as well as ripe fruits in the summer time, when insects are less abundant.

As with many New Zealand native species, unfortunately robin populations on the mainland have suffered due to forest clearance and introduced mammalian predators. Most predation will occur during nesting season and can therefore result in populations having a greater proportion of males, as the adult females are killed on the nest.

You can always have a robin in your garden with a Blazen.Metal robin bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or insect inlay. 25% off for the month of August.

Bibliography

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

Powlesland, R.G. 2013 [updated 2017]. South Island robin. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Powlesland, R.G. 2013 [updated 2017]. North Island robin. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

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Kingfisher – July

The kingfisher is a common bird, found in many different habitats around the country. Their beautiful green-blue back, intersecting their creamy undersides makes them easy to recognise as they sit on posts, power lines and branches.

Kingfishers sit high up to forage for food aerially – they eat a wide-range of prey, and are known for bashing larger items, such as lizards, mice and fish, to supple them up before swallowing them whole.

Birds are usually seen individually, or in breeding pairs. They make a nest site in September and lay a clutch of up to six eggs in October or November. The eggs are incubated mainly by the females for 21 days, with the chicks leaving the nest at 26 days old.

You can always have a kingfisher in your garden with a Blazen.Metal kingfisher bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or lizard inlay. 25% off for the month of July.

Bibliography

McKinlay, B. 2013 [updated 2017]. Sacred kingfisher. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

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Pukeko – June

Pukeko are widely distributed throughout New Zealand. They, unlike many other native birds, have benefited from the clearance of land for agriculture. They do however often cause hassle to cultivators, as they feed on, uproot, and damage their crops.

You can find pukeko in a range of habitats, but mostly around wet, marshy, swampy areas, feeding on raupo and rushes and other shoots, stems and leaves. They are well adapted for feeding on shoots and grasses, with their long toes holding the vegetation while feeding. Although primarily vegetarian, they are not strictly so – they also feed on invertebrates and can at times take larger prey.

Pukeko can have a complex social structure, living in large social groups, with a shared breeding and feeding territory. Here birds will lay eggs in a shared nest, and the young reared by the community. Once past the juvenile stage, there are few natural predators controlling pukeko populations, which means in some places they can be considered pests.

You can always have a pukeko in your garden with a Blazen.Metal pukeko bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or raupo inlay. 25% off for the month of June.

Bibliography

Dey, C.; Jamieson, I. 2013 [updated 2017]. Pukeko. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

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Kea – May

The curious kea is the only alpine parrot on the world.  The playful, inquisitive birds are well known for pecking at vehicles, sometimes causing damage. They are found only in the high altitude forests and alpine areas in the South Island. You will often hear them before you see them, with their screeching call of ‘keeeeeaaaa’. They have been known to attack sick sheep at night, but are generally found in their own habitat, feeding on alpine vegetation.

Between two and four eggs are laid each year, in nests situated in spacing’s between rocks, or under tree roots. Once chicks are old enough to take to the skies, you can recognise them in flight by the beautiful, bright orange plumage underneath their wings.

You can always have a kea in your garden with a Blazen.Metal kea bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or insect inlay, in either perching or landing. 25% off for the month of May.

Bibliography

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

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Kokako – April

New Zealand was once home to both the North and South Island kokako, easily distinguished by their differing wattle colours; orange in the South Island species and blue in the North. The South Island kokako currently has a conservation status of ‘data deficient’, moving from previously being thought to be extinct, as an accepted sighting was made in 2007 near Reefton (with the last accepted sighting in 1967).

The kokako are known for their haunting melodies – a unique addition to the dawn chorus. Their population has declined due to mammalian predation, and competition for food, particularly by possums. They still survive in sanctuaries and pest management areas, and small numbers in the wild in North Island forests.

Kokako feed mainly on a variety of fruit and leaves. They will however take spiders and insects in the summer, and when they are feeding chicks. When food is plentiful, this can occur twice a year, with two to three chicks hatching per brood.

No matter which island you are in, you can always have a kokako in your garden with a Blazen.Metal kokako bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or fern inlay. 25% off for the month of April.

Bibliography

Dawson, J., & Lucas, R. (2000). Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest. Auckland: Random House.

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

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Kereru – March

New Zealand’s only endemic pigeon, the kereru, with its distinctive wingbeats, is a keystone species in New Zealand forests – crucial to the dispersal of many native plant seeds. Strictly vegetarian, they love to gorge on ripe fruit, but they will also strip plants of their leaves, buds and flowers.

The birds are widely distributed in forest habitats, but often seen in open country, and built-up areas, feeding on flowers and fruits. At times, they can be seen in large feeding flocks of 20-50 birds. Kereru have been known to breed in all months of the year, however generally breeding occurs from September to April when there is good food availability.

You can always have a kereru in your garden with a Blazen.Metal kereru bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or kowhai inlay. 25% off for the month of March.

Bibliography

Dawson, J., & Lucas, R. (2000). Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest. Auckland: Random House.

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

Powlesland, R.G. 2013. New Zealand pigeon. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

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Tui – February

The boisterous tui are the largest and best known of New Zealand’s honeyeaters. They have distinctive white throat tufts, whirring flight sounds, and tuneful melodies intermixed with coughs, groans and rasps. They are widespread across New Zealand, and often seen in flax bushes, feeding on the nectar of the flowers.

They play an important role in pollinating flowers of not only the flax, but trees such as the mistletoe, puriri and pohutukawa, as well as dispersing podocarp seeds. When nectar is unavailable, their diet also consists of the fruits of native trees, and is supplemented by insects in the breeding season.

Tui are territorial birds, and will defend their feeding and breeding territories – energetically chasing other birds away. In breeding season, 2-4 eggs are laid, and cared for mainly by the female, with males only help to feed the chicks once they are older.

You can always have a tui in your garden with a Blazen.Metal tui bang’n bird – choose from traditional, koru or pohutukawa inlay. 25% off for the month of February.

Bibliography

Dawson, J., & Lucas, R. (2000). Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest. Auckland: Random House.

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

Robertson, H.A. 2013. Tui. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

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Fantail – January

The fantail or piwakawaka is a much-loved bird, as they frequent gardens across the country, flitting about with their large fan-like tails. The ‘flitting’ of the fantail is related to a hunting tactic called hawking, where insects are caught on the wing. Fantails use their tail to stop in mid-air and then dart in a different direction. This means fantails often come across as friendly, however they are generally just feeding on insects we have disturbed.

During mating season, they form territorial pairs, but can be seen in flocks in the winter months, catching insects together.

The most common fantail is the pied fantail with a cinnamon breast and belly, and a brown back, however the fantail also comes in a black colour morph. Black fantails are rare in the North Island, and make up less than 5% of the South Island population.

Fantails are good at utilizing a wide range of habitats, hence their widespread and common nature.

You can always have a fantail in your garden with a Blazen.Metal fantail bang’n bird – choose from fanned or perching, both available in traditional, koru or insect inlay. 25% off for the month of January.

Bibliography

Dawson, J., & Lucas, R. (2000). Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest. Auckland: Random House.

Moon, G. (2002). A Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers.

Powlesland, R.G. 2013 [updated 2017]. New Zealand fantail. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Onlinewww.nzbirdsonline.org.nz