Friday, 3 June 2016

Wood pigeon

There are two species of native pigeon: the New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) known to the Maori as kererū, or in Northland as kūkū or kūkupa; and the Chatham Islands pigeon (Hemiphaga chathamensis) or parea.

Two other kinds of native pigeon became extinct on Raoul Island and Norfolk Island last century, probably due to hunting and predation.

Kererū are large birds and can measure up to 51 cm from tail to beak, and weigh about 650 g. Parea are around 20% heavier.

Long-lived birds, they breed slowly. Key breeding signals are spectacular display flights performed mainly by territorial males. They nest mainly in spring/early summer producing only one egg per nest, which the parents take turns to look after during the 28-day incubation period.

The chick grows rapidly, leaving the nest when about 40 days old. It is fed "pigeon milk", a protein-rich milky secretion from the walls of the parents' crops, mixed with fruit pulp.  When much fruit is available, some pairs of kererū will have a large chick in one nest and be incubating an egg in another nearby. Fledglings spend about two weeks with their parents before becoming fully independent, but have remained with their parents during autumn and winter in some cases.

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