Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amazing Animals - Birds

In this section, I provide you with a glimpse of New Zealand's wildlife.

There are a lot of birds in New Zealand (both flightless and I've had a bit of exposure to local birds at work, as there are quite a few bird fanatics in the office. That said, I haven't quite found an elusive kiwi yet (they're endangered, doncha know) or some of those majestic yellow-breasted penguins (though hopefully this changes this weekend), BUT I've seen local adaptations of familiar birds that you wouldn't normally see in Noth America.

This is a new section, so if people think it's worthwhile I'll keep posting pieces like this.

Anyway, let's start our ornithological picture-fest, shall we?

To start off, here's a New Zealand seagull. This species, native to New Zealand, is known for its Red-bill:
Wikipedia also offers up this tidbit: "The birds form pair bonds which endure across seasons, but there is a certain amount of extra-pair copulation." Excuse me? Am I to believe that these gulls are promiscuous? Why, in my day, seagulls mated for life and that was that! Hmph. Next thing you know, a seagull will want to marry a squirrel!

Ahem. Next up, we have some random roosters I found while playing golf one day. I bet they're there just so that they can cock-a-doodle-doo right when some poor guy is putting.

Next, a more local bird, a kea. It's an alpine parrot, that once preyed on sheep (don't ask me how that's even possible). I saw it when we went to Arthur's Pass and, while it was a bit alarming to see these huge birds just roaming the streets, I appreciated how colourful they were. It's sad that they've become such scavengers (because people always give them food) when they used to be predators.
Apparently they're also polygamous, which I blame solely on the prevalence of extra-pair copulation among seagulls.

More recently, I saw a duck:
There doesn't really seem to be anything special with this duck, or ducks in New Zealand in general, so here's me attempting to interview it:
If you didn't catch that, I said, "What do you think of the David Letterman scandal?" and he replied with, "Just leave me alone. Frickin' paparazzi."

I also saw a pair of black swans on the road to Akaroa. It's apparently a native Australian bird that was either introduced to New Zealand or flew here (much to the jealousy of the local kiwis and penguins, I'm sure).
According to the wikipedia article, they also exhibit homosexual behaviour where two males (or bros, let's say) will hang out together for life. The two bros can defend territory better than a male and a female can; this is the evolutionary fitness benefit. They are able to reproduce as a female without a partner will seek out these two bros, have sex with one of them, and lay eggs there. She will then, get this, be shooed out by the two bros and the two bros will then raise the baby swans. Is anyone scared that this might be a hilarious spoof ending to HIMYM where Ted and Barney raise Ted's children?
Anyway, we tried to get close to the two bros, but they weren't biting. They ran away from Arthur here and he gave up. Bros don't let just anyone near their babies.

That's it! We're done! I hope this has been enlightening for you. It certainly has been for me!


  1. That was awesome! Who knew ornithology could be this interesting. Also, I can't help but wonder if the geese in UW are this scandalous too.

  2. oh, there is the most amazing and sad youtube video about the kiwi and its attempt to fly. go to youtube and search "kiwi animation" (i'd look it up for you...but youtube is blocked at work!)
    great post. did you know that there are no mammals native to NZ? only birds. CRAZY!

  3. should you ever return to NZ, check out Kapiti Island it's a bird reserve with all sorts of native (and endangered) birds. well worth it. it's off the lower west coast of the North Island, near Wellington.

  4. That sounds great! I'll be sure to check it out the next time I go to NZ