Bird of the Week: Kereru

Dispersing seed skills

By Cushla McGaughey

Puriri drupes

Seedlings have best chance of survival when they grow far from the parent tree. To catch the eye of hungry birds, seeds are brightly packaged in berries and drupes of all shapes and sizes.

Tui and bellbirds can swallow smaller fruits whole, dropping seeds wherever they fly. The kaka, our biggest forest parrot, grinds the seeds of fruit it eats.

Only plus-sized kereru can gulp down very large drupes, such as those of puriri and miro. The seeds survive intact to grow even better, spread anywhere around a home range of about 20 km.

Also known as the New Zealand Pigeon or Wood Pigeon, kereru like to rest on bare branches.

They are in fact the superstars of forest renewal, feeding on the fruit of at least 70 different species of trees and shrubs.

When no fruit is available, they subsist on leaves, buds and flowers, but pairs need a sufficient supply of fruit to raise their single chick.