Birds Of The West Wind: How Australia Has Shaped New Zealand's Avian Life

Author(s): Garry Sheeran

NZ Non-Fiction | NZ Scenic/Travel | Flora & Fauna

The origin of New Zealand birds is a story whose continuing evolution in the last 30 years especially has upset many apple carts - from the idea that the moa has evolved from a small South American bird which flew to ancient New Zealand, to the seeming preposterous suggestion that the kiwi is more closely related to the Madagascan elephant bird than the moa. What, then, of the kakapo, kea, tui, rifleman, stitchbird and the rest of our iconic New Zealand birds? Garry Sheeran has dug up what professionals are re-discovering about the origin of New Zealand birds with the help of modern scientific tools. A particular theme is the influence of Australian avifauna on New Zealand's bird life. In Part 1 he tells of his layman's latter-day interest in birds with enthusiasm, originality and charm. He also traces how the origin stories of birds are closely connected to the origins of the islands and continents on which they are found. Part 2 contains specific origin stories of more than 80 mainly land and shore birds, and traces their possible connection to Australian birds. The book is aimed as much at readers with little knowledge of New Zealand's bird life as it is at enthusiastic and knowledgeable birders. Writes Colin Miskelly, terrestrial vertebrates of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: 'Garry Sheeran takes readers on an entertaining and informative journey of personal discovery through hypotheses proposed and conclusions drawn to that quintessential kiwi question: Where did our namesakes and their feathered brethren come from?'


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When Garry Sheeran stepped back from regular full-time work seven years ago, writing a book was not on his agenda. And that despite the fact he had spent 45 years as a metropolitan newspaper journalist, both in New Zealand and overseas. His specialist field was business and finance. What he did do, however, was immerse himself in what had been the off-duty delight of his life - involvement in the outdoors and natural world. And it was his work over four years as a Department of Conservation volunteer on the scientific wildlife reserve of Tiritiri Matangi Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf took him back to his other love - writing. The result is this book.

CONTENTS Preface 8 PART 1: THE STORY Hot pools & plovers 12 Into enemy territory 21 Rocks of ages 26 Days of our lives 32 Vicars & vagrants 39 From fracture to flood 49 From flood to freeze 58 Between the ice sheets 68 3 Modern times 75 Waifs, strays & misfits 86 Migrants & freeloaders 93 Eureka! 101 Eight pages of colour photos PART 11: STORIES Moas 108 Kiwis 112 Penguins & albatrosses 115 Song birds 119 Parrots 135 Ducks & geese 140 Dotterels, gulls & terns 152 Herons, egrets & bitterns 171 Rails, swamphens & coots 179 Pigeons & doves 185 Game birds 188 Grebes 191 Falcons, harriers & eagles 194 Shags, gannets & pelicans 198 Cuckoos 207 Owls & kingfishers 211 PART 111: APPENDICES When birds arrived in NZ 218 Where NZ birds came from 224 Source reading 226 Notes 228 Index 232

General Fields

  • : 9780473356705
  • : G. J. Books
  • : G. J. Books
  • : November 2016
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Garry Sheeran
  • : 242
  • : eight pages of colour photos