Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Part 3

Fantails, the birds that make up for their itsy-bitsy size with a whole lotta cheek.

So, what makes these birds so special? I mean, they're just a bird, right? Well, let me tell you a bit about them, and you might see why fantails are cool.

These birds are not hard to find, as they can live in any reasonably extensive greenery -- large urban parks, for example. When you encounter a fantail, you will probably first hear its call. It is not a bird call as we know it, more of a repetition of an angry "beep!". This alone is funny, since it sounds a lot like a squeek-toy.

Soon after, the bird will likely appear within view, as these birds seem to profoundly enjoy human attention. The bird itself is smaller than a sparrow, but has a long, lovely tail that spreads into (you guessed it!) a fan. About six feet away from you, it will then begin flying around in a showy manner -- specifically, a figure-eight pattern -- whilst flaring its tail and continuing to beep. It can continue doing this for hours. Occasionally, to keep things interesting, it will charge you, then dart away just in time.

The Maori call this bird the Piwakawaka, which means 'messenger'. Given how this bird seems to seek people out, get their attention with its acrobatic flights, and beep at them urgently, this seems a fitting name.

So, I will miss these cheeky birds -- they're so cute, and so much fun to watch.


Anonymous said...

I remember those little birds! I also remember that really unusual tree at the
cottage in the wine district,
that looked like cotton candy. I've never seen anything like that before.
Maybe,many years from now,we'll all go back to NZ for a trip?!?!
Love from Mum

antony61 said...

kia ora from Prague antony

Karla said...

Kia ora, Antony! Enjoy Prague, I hear it's beautiful!! :-)