The kererū or New Zealand wood pigeon is a beautiful, iconic bird native to New Zealand and often seen across Southland. The kererū is one of the largest species of pigeons in the world, measuring about 50 centimeters in length and weighing around 550 grams. It has a distinctive appearance with a plump body, iridescent green and white feathers, and a white chest. The bird's wings are adorned with a striking white wing-bar, which becomes visible when it takes flight. Despite their size, kererū are agile flyers, capable of swift and maneuverable flights. Their heavy wings can often be heard flapping through the forest! During the breeding season, kererū can be seen engaging in courtship displays, which involve elaborate aerial chases and flapping displays.
The kererū holds significant cultural importance to the Māori people of New Zealand. It is considered a taonga (treasure) and is protected under the Wildlife Act. The kererū is associated with fertility, abundance, and new beginnings. The bird's fat, known as "tūāhu," was traditionally used in cooking and played a role in ceremonial rituals.
Kererū have adapted well to both native and exotic tree species, making them a common sight in gardens and suburban areas.
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