Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

Carpophaga novæ-zealandiæ, Gmelin. (Wood-pigeon.)

Carpophaga novæ-zealandiæ, Gmelin. (Wood-pigeon.)

It is very regrettable to see how scarce this fine Wood-pigeon is becoming in all the settled districts. Even as late as 1880 it was extremely abundant in the Forty-mile Bush. I find the following entry in my diary for April of that year:—

The Pigeon is now feeding on koroi, the small red berry of the kahikatea, which is exceptionally abundant this year, the trees by the roadside as we passed through the Forty-mile Bush having a russet hue from the abundance of the ripe fruit. The miro berry comes in next month, and the whanake page 114 early in June. The pate (called "patete" by the Ngatika-hungunu, and "kotete" by the Ngatiraukawa) is now in fruit, the long spikes or drupes of berries hanging in conspicuous clusters along the edge of the forest. This, too, is a favourite food of the Wood-pigeon at this season. The houhou, which has clusters of black berries, like the English elder-bush, contributes likewise to the bountiful bill of fare; so also does the karamu (Coprosma lucida), and a much larger kind, called raurekau by the natives, producing a brighter-red berry, and now in full bearing. The Tui and the Kaka also regale themselves at this season on these sweet berries.

The flight of the Wood-pigeon is rapid and direct at first, then oblique and somewhat tumbling: that is to say, the bird turns over first on one side, then on the other, in a very measured manner. The tail is partially spread during flight.

Many beautiful varieties of this fine Wood-pigeon have been recorded from time to time, but there is a specimen in the Colonial Museum of which no description has yet been published. In this bird the plumage of the head, neck, breast, and mantle is largely varied with pure white, which predominates on the neck, the normal bronzy plumage shining out in the midst of it, especially on the breast, with a very pretty effect; there are also a few scattered white feathers on the wings and tail. This handsome bird was obtained at Eketahuna, and presented to the Museum by Mr. R. R. Greville.

There are two beautiful specimens in the possession of Mr. C. J. Robinson, of the Upper Hutt. One of these, shot by himself on a miro tree at the summit of the western range, opposite Wallaceville, in June, 1892, has the head, neck, and breast, and the upper surface generally dull yellowish-brown, shaded with darker; the primaries and tail-feathers clove-brown, the latter darker; the higher interscapular region or shoulders and the small wing-coverts rich vinous-brown; some of the outer coverts pale-brown with vinous edgings; the whole of the under surface pure white. Bill and feet red. The other bird was shot in the same spot about eight days later. It is a lovely albino, the entire plumage being pure white, with just the faintest tinge of cream, or, so to speak, another shade of white on the breast; and on the smaller wing-coverts then is a pale wash of cream. The primaries and tail-feathers are pale cream with pure-white shafts. Bill and feet red.

A specimen which I lately received from Nelson has ft white of the underparts, especially along the junction with the bronze plumage of the breast, washed with chrome-yellow and the under tail-coverts are entirely of that colour. Its apparently an adult bird, and is marked "female" by the collector.