'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Otorohanga Bird House

First, before we have even gone in the gate we spot a couple of Northern Hemisphere migrants over-wintering in New Zealand.

A Pied Stilt and a couple of sorry-looking Godwits. They do have two legs. They're just resting one.

A beautiful cryptically-coloured lime Gecko is well camouflaged.

Kereru, the wood pigeon, is a beautiful green with purple highlights, and has her cream apron on. She's about three times the size of the ones in Trafalgar square.

One of our hardy and adaptable Pukeko...

Here is a series of photos showing the hatching of a Northern Brown Kiwi Chick. The hen only lays one egg, and they are a huge proportion of her weight. It is about six times the size of that of an average bird. So, imagine the Kiwi, which is about the size of a farmyard (or battery) hen, yet lays an egg the size of an emu's!

And finally the kiwis of course! Because they are nocturnal, the room is kept dark, and you can't see well because Claire didn't want to use the flash and disturb them. I haven't been this close to a kiwi since the last time I was here, which was at least 20 years ago. I'd forgotten how odd-shaped they are - all round-bottom and big feet. They are fast and busy, almost trotting along, and constantly probe, probe with that long bill of theirs. Amazing birds.

Thank you Claire for the images.


  1. My favorite NZ bird is the Pukeko bird. I even brought a bunch home with me. Take a look.


  2. Ha! What a lot of Kiwiana you have in that garden of yours Judy!
    So, when are you coming on your next visit?

  3. For a moment I mistook the Pukeko for the Purple Moorhens we tend to see in wetlands in Goa, there's some similarity between them.

    I'm always amazed to see birds that rest long on a single leg.

  4. Anil, Welcome to TLVD! My great uncle lived most of his life in Pakistan, and knew these moorhens - he called them 'blue birds', as he used to shoot them.

    The Pukeko, is a subspecies of its African, American and Indian cousins. It has somehow made its way to NZ twice. The first was so long ago that the bird evolved to become much larger and lose the power of flight and become the bird we now call Takahe. The second time was much more recent so the Pukeko is very similar to the original bird.

  5. I think a Kiwi would need (and I say this without any knowledge of the biological science!) its huge rear end to accommodate the large egg.

    I'm glad I'm not female!

  6. I suspect you are right GB. They are decidedly egg-shaped!