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Helping a Beloved Garden Inhabitant

This article was first published on 04 Oct 2018.

Wood pigeon on kowhai

Wood pigeon on kowhai

A backyard visit from a kererū is always a delight. It is remarkable that  these placid vegetarians, with their ungainly ways and appetising appearance, remain a common sight in urban gardens.

Kererū (or kūkupa) are adaptable creatures. They feed from a variety of native and introduced trees and shrubs, ranging widely and adjusting their diets to what is in season.

When selecting bird-attracting plants for your garden, consider some that are appealing to our native wood pigeon.

Sophora molloyi 'Dragon's Gold' is a small, bushy form of kōwhai, which flowers in the dead of winter. It works well in home gardens, inviting birds down low where you can watch them gobble-prune the fresh leaves.

Kōwhai is in the nutritious legume family, along with broom and gorse. Kererū have no bias against exotic plants, and are also very keen on the tough, quick-growing tree lucerne (Cytisus proliferus).

Another fast grower is wineberry (Aristotelia serrata), one of many native fruiting trees.

Kererū adore native fruit and play a vital role in the regeneration of lowland forests. Nurture an eco-sourced miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea) in your garden, and kererū will ensure its kākano find their way to the bush.

If you have a plum tree in your back garden you may have noticed kererū sharing in your harvest, sometimes indulging to the point of drunkenness. They’ll eat the leaves, buds and flowers too. Between feeds they get very thirsty so a deep bird bath or better still, running water, may entice them to stay a bit longer and minimise any hangover.