In Port Chalmers we are regularly treated to the sound of these dufus fruit pigeons winging between food trees with all the elegance and finesse of a grossly overloaded Starlifter.
This one was eating from a cabbage tree in our backyard and you can see the pale spray of flowers it was browsing on behind it. As you might ascertain from these candid shots, kereru are not the sharpest tool in the avian shed. Maori valued them both for their low IQ and fatty deliciousness; they're still hunted illegally and it is partly for this reason that they're on the decline in many areas of NZ, the others being habitat destruction and predation by introduced marauders. They're also fond of using roads as flight paths and a not inconsiderable toll is taken by car windscreens. These pigeons are the southernmost outliers of a large, generally spectacular and mostly tropical bush-dwelling clan.
Despite their conspicuous courting routines they're not especially vocal, occasionally emitting subdued, ventriloquist-like hooos and bobbing their little heads when something troubles them.
We can ill afford to lose the wood pigeon; it is the last species large enough to consume and distribute the seeds of many important native trees. With it lies the future of our remaining forests. Thanks to initiatives like the Orokonui Sanctuary the kereru is still moderately abundant in greater Dunedin, regularly invading even the most urban areas. The best place to view them is probably the Bot Gardens, where they will sit, happily devastating a favourite shrub, at arm's length while you snap away, quite unconcerned.