New Zealand Native Pigeon Kererū

The New Zealand native pigeon is the kererū, also known as kūkū or kūkupa.

kereru, kūkū or kūkupa
New Zealand Native Pigeon on Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Reserve

Kereru, kūkū or kūkupa, New Zealand Native Pigeon on Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Reserve

There is also a second species of New Zealand wood pigeon called the Chatham Islands pigeon, or parea. The parea species is not as common as the kereru species and therefore considered under threat and in need of some protection. Kererū is widespread across both north and south islands.

The kererū is a relatively large bird that is mostly found in forested areas of New Zealand. It is nationally endemic and not under threat of extinction although can be vulnerable to habitat loss and impact of non-native predators.

kererū - New Zealand Wood Pigeon, South Island
Kereru, kūkū or kūkupa - New Zealand Wood Pigeon, South Island

Kererū do make a lot of noise when flying so you will probably hear its wings before you see it.

My first encounter with kererū was one flying over my head quite close, I actually ducked as it seemed like it was just going to fly into me! See the shadowy looking photo I took. At the time I was trying to take photos of a Robin but got the photo of the pigeon as it zoomed into view heading straight for me, which is why it’s not that clear.

kererū - New Zealand Pigeon Flying, Marlborough, South Island
kererū New Zealand Native Pigeon Flying, Marlborough, South Island

You can see from the photos what beautiful coloured feathers the kererū has, particularly around its head and wings with shimmering tones of green, blue, and bronze.

Colourful Feathers of kererū New Zealand Native Pigeon
Colourful Feathers of New Zealand Native Pigeon, Kereru, kuku, kukupa

Colourful feathers set off against a clean white chest, red eyes and feet, and a large orange bill. All in all kererū is a very colourful New Zealand bird species.

kererū New Zealand Native Pigeon - Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Reserve
Kereru New Zealand Native Pigeon on Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary Reserve. kūkū, kūkupa

New Zealand Native Pigeon Conservation

New Zealand pigeons play an important part in dispersing seeds of native plants across the country, seed dispersal aids in regeneration of native forest. Both species of pigeon, the kererū and parea, are the only native birds surviving in New Zealand that have beaks large enough for dispersing the seeds of the native plants that bear large fruit such as taraire, laraka, tawa, matai and miro. Other large birds that would originally have taken care of seed dispersal are now extinct.

Although the kererū is not currently endangered, the parea is. It is therefore important to ensure these birds have habitat in which to live and breed. The work of New Zealand conservation in native forest regeneration and predator eradication is extremely important for all fauna and flora. New Zealand pigeons must be monitored and protected to ensure they survive to continue the essential part they play now and in the future.

Find out more about Kererū through the Kererū Discovery Project http://kererudiscovery.org.nz/ and the Great Kererū Count https://www.greatkererucount.nz/.

New Zealand Wildlife

List of New Zealand Native Birds and List of New Zealand Animals, Land and Marine