Encounters with the New Zealand Pigeon

The New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) is endemic to this country and very distinctive with its “white singlet” front. You’d think it would be easily seen but its actually difficult to spot when looking up into the branches of a tree. And they stay very quiet most of the time, although if disturbed they fly off with a loud beating of wings. We sometimes see them perched on powerlines in the city streets. Despite their size they fly very well and perform amazing acrobatics at breeding time, specialising in flying high and then doing a stall and fall maneuver to show-off. Its Maori name is kereru.


NZ Pigeon in tree at Maple Glen garden, Wyndham, Southland, NZ. Taken in early September (spring).


Closer view from same photo


We were looking at plants in this herb garden when my husband suddenly spotted that a native pigeon had landed in the fountain and was having a drink! Dunedin Botanic Garden 29 Jan 2017 (summer).


Closer view from same photo


Native pigeon in native kowhai at the University of Otago campus, Dunedin. Taken 23 July 2017 (winter).


This photo was taken when we lived at Papatowai in The Catlins, South Otago. The tall macrocarpa trees were on the boundary between our property and the neighbour. One morning we noticed a whole group of native pigeons perched on the very top branches of the macrocarpas. It seemed amazing that big plump birds could perch on the topmost branches! It was the only time we ever saw them do this.


Closer view from same photo.

If you’d like to see more photos and information, New Zealand Birds Online is a good source.


Posted by Exploring Colour and Photos by SO (2017)

2 thoughts on “Encounters with the New Zealand Pigeon

Add yours

    1. NZ Pigeon is one of my favourite birds here. The contrast between the white front and colourful back is very distinctive and they’re a big, plump bird. Can fly very fast too. One darn near hit our ute the other day when we were slowly reversing out of the carpark at the Botanic Garden. Came out of nowhere and we practically ducked, it was so close. Don’t think it allowed for the fact we were moving. Or it likes dicing with death!


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