From burglar parrots to drunk pigeons: why New Zealand is so obsessed with its native birds | New Zealand


When Ron Magill, the Miami Zoo’s ambassador, woke up on Tuesday, He hadn’t expected the storm of anger he was about to face.

Opening his inbox, the waves exploded: tweets, emails, videos, trending hashtags, hundreds of TikToks, petitions for 13,000 signatures, news at every local media outlet. official statement of the government when the days pass The fury attracted the attention of New Zealand’s highest office. The Prime Minister weighed in at the press conference.

Those outside Aotearoa may be surprised to learn that the rage is linked to a single bird: Pāora, the kiwi. This is a practice that is not suitable for a solitary nature and likes to go out at night. “We offended a nation,” Magill announced, profoundly apologizing from the zoo and swiftly ending the Kiwi Encounter program.

The Paora event will be just one of the latest examples of the fierce love for birds in New Zealand. “Hell isn’t as furious as the citizens of a country hosting a ‘bird of the year’ contest,” quipped Auckland scientist Catherine Qualtrak. And this country has an unusual international focus and devotion to winged creatures. That love has created a national identity and conservation agenda. and launched a massive nationwide campaign to eradicate the animals that threaten bird populations.

“YYou know what you know,” said Andrew Digby, a science adviser for the Department of Conservation. And what New Zealand does know is birds. The country is one of the few places in the world where there are no terrestrial mammals.

The kiwi is considered a taonga (cultural treasure) by the Maori people. Photo: Oliver Strewe/Getty Images

islands That makes up modern New Zealand began to separate from the rest of the land mass about 80 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were still alive. And before mammals evolved to be widespread. As a result, the country’s only endemic mammals are bats and marine animals such as seals. 60 million years ago, Aotearoa was completely isolated from the rest of the land. And its bird population is evolving to fill an evolutionary niche often filled by mammals.

From an extraordinary ecological history Many of New Zealand’s bird species are highly unusual. with a unique appearance and extraordinary size It is well known that Kereru gigantic wooden pigeon Grow wild and eat fermented berries and fall from the trees. Sometimes drunk birds want to sober up sometimes. Most of them are terrestrial inhabitants who cannot fly. Modified to avoid predators flying in the air as predators. instead of furry animals The best known is the kiwi bird – shy and unable to fly. With bowling ball proportions – which is enough for the national symbol that “Kiwi” has become a common vernacular for New Zealanders.

But there is another icon: the extinct giant moa, which stood up to 3.6 m (12 ft) and weighed about 230 kg, was a wingless, grass-eating herbivore. Windshield wipers, camera thieves, and learning to use tools Kākāpō, the world’s fattest parrot It is nocturnal, unable to fly, and strong, with a distinctive waddle gait. Kakapo act more like a badger than a bird. Digby said “Badgers eat plants, climb trees, and live in that hollow. They live in holes in the ground. come out at night That’s exactly the nature of mammals.”

Maori culture regards the Tonga as a cultural asset that must be honored and protected. And throughout the country they were viewed with intense love and pride.


“One thing they don’t tell you is New Zealanders like to talk about their birds,” says comedian Rebecca Shaw as she moves in. “Every time I go to a gathering of three or more people, At one point they started talking about birds.” The country holds an election for its bird of the year each year. with strict voting rules and campaign teams for different candidates

and suddenly
The kakapo – a fat, flightless parrot – is the only species to have been crowned New Zealand’s Bird of the Year twice. Photo: Nature Picture Library/Alamy

“It’s an important part of our identity, isn’t it?” said Damian Christie, a New Zealand broadcaster who now runs a neighborhood trap group. “The Flock was here before all of us. Birds are part of our folklore. of Maori legends And then there was a call like that. You can’t ignore that call in the morning.”

For millions of New Zealanders The day begins with a bird: whether outside the window or on the radio. Every morning the national news anchor announces the AM news in the sound of native birds. The suggestion that “Bird” might have been cut off by the state network in 2005 was quickly dismissed following an uproar from listeners – the radio said it had received 1,600 emails during its lunch break. and a woman unfurls a “Keep the Bird” sign from her apartment window opposite. Station Headquarters for others It’s the chorus of dawn which gets louder and louder After a concerted effort to create a predator-free urban sanctuary, and eliminate threats to native birds.

gIn addition to the unusual nature of birds They often get the attention of the country’s unusual approach. sometimes as an experiment for their welfare. “Lonely Gannet” made headlines around the world after news broke that he had spent years trying to persuade a concrete replica of Gannet on an isolated island off the coast of New Zealand. The concrete birds have been installed by conservation workers who hope they will attract and foster flocks.

A more widespread strategy, however, is New Zealand’s massive efforts to wipe out mammals such as rats, possums, stoats and porcupines, which pose a significant threat to native species. and to keep them free from predators Wildlife sanctuaries – islands or fenced portions of the mainland – where birds can live uninhabited.

Located on the island of Tiritiri Matangi, New Zealand.
Located on the island of Tiritiri Matangi, New Zealand. Photo: Rod Williams/Alami.

Christie is one of several New Zealanders who now facilitate trapping in the backyard of his neighborhood. traps are provided to approximately 100 households to capture and kill rats, rhizomes or other mammals. “For me, it’s all about bird life,” he says. “It’s about doing what you have to do to bring those birds back to town.”

Digby says the scope, scale and ambition of New Zealand’s conservation efforts “There is a lot of work for the size of a country … A lot of the frontline work is being done in conservation in New Zealand – it pushes the boundaries a bit because there is such an unusual situation.”

In some places it works. in the capital city of Wellington The Kiwi was once again released into the hills. After the attempts of mammoths to wipe them from predators Once-rare native species, Tui and Gaga, are once again flying through the city. After creating a population at the urban bird sanctuary

“You’ll see the gaga flying across the business district. And people noticed those things. Even people who don’t know about conservation,” Digby said. “Everybody can see it.”

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