New Zealand Wood Pigeon

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The kereru or New Zealand Wood Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)is a bird endemic to New Zealand.

The kereru belongs to the family Columbidae, and the subfamily Treroninae, which is found throughout Southeast Asia, Malaya, Africa and New Zealand.

The New Zealand Wood Pigeons are the second largest members of the family Columbidae. The Kereru can grow to 51 cm in length and 650 g in weight on the mainland, and 55 cm and 800 g on the Chatham Islands. The head, throat and wings are generally a shiny green-purple colour, but with a bronze tinge to the feathers on the mainland and an ashy-grey wash on the Chathams. The breast is typically white and the bill red with an orange tip. The feet and eye are red. Juveniles have a similar colouration but are generally paler with dull colours for the beak, eyes and feet and a shorter tail.

The New Zealand pigeons make occasional soft coo sounds, and the wings make a very distinctive whooshing sound as they fly. The bird's flight is also very distinctive, the birds will often ascend slowly before making impressively steep parabolic dives, this thought to be often associated with nesting, or nest failure.

The New Zealand pigeons primarily eat fruits from native trees. They play an important ecological role, as they are the only birds capable of eating the largest native fruits and drupes and thus spreading the seeds intact. While fruit comprises the major part of their diets, the New Zealand pigeon also browses on leaves and buds, especially nitrogen rich foliage during breeding. One of their favorite leaves to eat is from an introduced plant the common plum tree. The diet changes seasonally as the availabiltiy of fruit changes, and leaves can comprise the major part of the diet at certain times of the year, such as when there is little fruit around.

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