Kereru starving after last summer's Northland drought

Saturday 14 Aug 2010 5:02 p.m.

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By Bob McNeil

Some native birds are paying the price for last summer's drought in Northland.

Worst hit are wood pigeons, or kereru; they are now starving after the drought destroyed much of their traditional winter food.

While usually kereru are our bigger native birds; the drought has left them weak and thin, and one of them doesn't have the strength to fly.

Bird rescuer Sylvia Durrant says it is the first time she has seen pigeons starving.

"We had a very dry summer and the trees dropped their leaves and berries, and now in winter, when the woodpigeons would be eating them, they are not, because there aren’t any there,” she says.

Ms Durrant has been rescuing birds for 20 years and says kereru have been dying in all the areas affected by the drought.

"So they are eating grass and leaves, and whatever they can find. It's not very nourishing so they are losing half their body weight; just dropping out of the sky from starvation," she says.

Ms Durrant doesn't have a degree in ornithology – the study of birds – but she does have something else; a vast knowledge of birds, and a magic touch when it comes to handling them.

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