We’re very excited about the possibility of having a pukeko nesting in our back yard. We’re not absolutely sure and hesitate to go looking for fear of disturbing the bird, but we’ve seen one poking around on numerous occasions where we’ve never seen them before. Now I’m nervous about doing the necessary spraying of our fruit trees down there. What if I stood on the nest? I’d be gutted. But with apples, plums and citrus trees all needing attention right now I’m in a quandary. Perhaps I’ll do some research and find out when the chicks would be likely to hatch. Its getting late enough, almost summer, and they might already be hatched.
Pukekos are not a bird I’ve mentioned in any of my stories to date as they are primarily a grassland bird not a forest dweller. For some reason they have become iconic within the tourism industry, more so now than the kiwi. One possible reason for this is the pukeko is a bird visitors are likely to see in their natural habitat. They are often seen alongside roads and motorways foraging for food. Whereas the kiwi, being a nocturnal bird, can only be seen in museums or sanctuaries. Although kiwi calls can be heard at night in certain dense bush areas, ever seeing one in its natural environment would be an amazing experience. Another reason the pukeko may have taken pride of place as “our symbol” could be that it is a beautiful bird. About the size of a hen, they have a dark blue back, royal blue chest, red beak and legs and white feathers under their tail. A visitor is far more likely to see souvenirs with pukekos featured than our kiwis. Their image look very catching on glassware especially.
My husband has plans to “re-do” our section/garden when he retires next year. Amidst the plans is the intention to plant more native trees in the hope we’ll attract more native birds – we’re limited to tuis and kereru (wood pigeons) who feast on our fruit trees right now – I’d be so thrilled if we have already attracted some pukekos, and without any effort at all. I have all my fingers and toes crossed in the hope we are right.