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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 9 (April 1, 1931)

The Ventriloquist

The Ventriloquist.

Some of our New Zealand birds—the bellbird is one—are mimics and seem to take a delight in forging notes to deceive the bush-traveller. But the long-tailed cuckoo, called by the Maoris the koekoea, or the kohoperoa, is the arch-deceiver. You may hear one quite close by you, in a tree, but immediately he detects your presence he adopts protective tactics. The next shrill cuckoo call will come apparently from a distance, and you may imagine the bird to have taken flight to the tree from which the cry seemingly came. But Mr. Koekoea has not stirred; he is sitting as still as can be on the same branch, maybe watching you through its leaves to see how well he has fooled you. He is a quite unscrupulous beggar this same cuckoo, like his cousin the shining cuckoo, or pipi-wharauroa. He eggs on his partner to lay in the little grey warbler's nest, throwing that long-suffering bird's eggs out to make room for hers, and so foisting his offspring on the patient riroriro and evading his own clear duty as food-provider.