“When Wordsworth’s heart with pleasure filled at a crowd of golden daffodils, it’s a safe bet he didn’t see them two weeks later.”
Geoff Hamilton (1936-1996)
New Zealand’s native wood pigeon. the kereru
The kereru in the apple trees just outside our back door has returned. This is a seasonal appearance. It flies in every day to spend much of the afternoon munching away on the remaining apple leaves. As the trees close down for winter dormancy, the sugars concentrate in the foliage. The kereru never comes in to feed from them until late autumn or early winter but it is pretty enthusiastic now. We rarely see more than one at a time in these trees at a time although we know we have more than just the one as a regular on the property. I see they can live to be 20 years old so perhaps it is just this one that has discovered a taste treat. It is determined and will try and out-stare both humans and dogs until we get within a metre or two before it abandons ship to crash away. At 650 grams average weight, kereru do a lot of crashing at both take off and landing.
Along from the apple trees, we have planted both red and yellow guavas. They are the South American Psidium littorale, not the tropical guava. These were a nostalgic planting specifically to feed both kereru and grandchildren alike. The latter have yet to make an appearance but the kereru are appreciative.
As far as we know, our kereru stick around all year, feeding from a variety of berries, fruit, seeds, flowers and leaves. While they are usually solitary birds, we have counted up to 15 at once on a memorable occasion. Various reasons are given for the national decline in numbers but none of the experts seem to add extremely poor nest building to that list. When it comes to nests and ensuring the safety of their one, solitary offspring at a time, these birds must be contenders for the title of NZ’s worst nest builders.
First printed in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.