Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

New Zealand pigeon display flights

Images: Neil Fitzgerald

The New Zealand pigeon (kererū, kukupa) is an iconic native species of great ecological and cultural significance, but they are scarce in parts of the country such as lowland Waikato. Citizen scientists can help us learn more about when and where these birds breed, so we can find effective ways to increase their numbers.

add_observation_button When displaying, New Zealand pigeons swoop up vertically with noisy wing beats, spread their wings and tail, then stall and glide silently back down.

NatureWatch NZ

New Zealand pigeons perform conspicuous display flights during their breeding season — the timing of which can vary from place to place and year to year. Landcare Research scientists, together with their Hamilton Halo partners (Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council) would like to learn more about when and where NZ pigeons attempt to breed in the Waikato Region, with the goal of increasing their abundance in the region, and the health of the native forests that rely on them.

This is where citizen science can help! If you see a display flight, please enter the observation into the NZ pigeon display flights project on NatureWatchNZ.

So, what does their display look like? These are distinctive displays where the bird gains altitude with noisy wingbeats, stalls with its body vertical and wings and tail spread, then tilts forwards or sometimes sideways to glide silently down again. You'll know if you see it!

What if you've seen NZ pigeons but they weren't displaying? Well, we'd love to know that too, as it helps build a picture of where and when they are present but not breeding.

Although we are particularly interested in observations from the Waikato Region, we welcome records from throughout New Zealand.