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Winter Musings

The Vanishing Ring Eyes

These small birds have a variety of names, all of them describing the prominent eye ring, So Wax Eyes, Silver Eyes, Ring Eyes, depending I suppose on  your own preference.

An Australian “import” first described in 1832, they colonised rapidly, and were once very common in our garden, with large numbers frequenting our feeding table especially in winter, when they form quite large flocks. .

Ring Eye, Sails Tours Stewart Island


Ring Eye, Sails Tours Stewart Island

Ring Eye, Sails Tours Stewart Island
Ring Eye, Hidden in the foliage. Really “Stretching” my lens. 

And very mobile, never still for more than a couple of seconds

 I had always considered them a bird of more open spaces. A couple of years ago Matt Jones mentioned he had seen a flock at Boulder Beach on Ulva, which did surprise me but knowing Matts skill as a birder I didn’t think to query. And a few days later I came across them my self. So had to amend my views on Ring Eye behavior.

Sadly the last few years they have been noticeably reduced in numbers, to the point we now comment if we see one. But a couple of days ago I came a cross a large flock busy in the cabbage trees on Ulva Island. They were very busy, and almost impossible to compose a photo, so the one I have in the cabbage tree was the result of the tried and true method of using burst mode and the point and pray format.

Parakeet Egg

This time of year it’s Fungi which catch my attention. But when I bent down to inspect an odd white one, I found, not a Toadstool, but a broken, but fresh cracked egg. Probably a parakeet but certainly a surprise at this time of year.

Nesting for our parakeets is generally January/February through March/April. But as there is still a huge amount of food on the Coprosma bushes, as well as Rimu mast and the weather has been quite mild it maybe that some birds are attempting a second nest. 

Kaka Behavior

With the colder weather we are seeing more Kaka at our bird feeder. …. You can see this on our web cam …..

Kaka behavior is interesting, as they are quite a social bird, and seem to enjoy each other company. But one of the oddities is what Iris & I refer to as “Fluffies” . I had always thought they were juvenile birds submitting to and begging food from their elders. But someone told me it was actually a symptom of lead poisoning. I find that hard to believe, as I’ve never heard of kaka damaging roof flashing … really the only possible source of lead. And although it does happen with several birds together, I’ve also seen a solitary bird performing. Typically the bird will “Fluff Up” hunch it’s back, and open its beak, with the head pushed forward. And if it walks, it appears to be quite stilted, not the rolling gate of a normal bird. And the submissive behavior persists even when alone.

The video is the only record I have of this behavior and it’s  not a good example.