Archives For ornithology

Te Papa’s Florence Liger tells us about New Zealand Birds Online—a new website they created in partnership with The Ornithological Society of New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

We have recently launched NZ Birds Online, an encyclopaedia of New Zealand birds. I have been involved in this project for 18 months, from the IT side of things, and it’s been an absolute pleasure all along!

I’m an identification geek (among other geekily obsessions). If I have taken a photo of a fern, or a mushroom, or a bird, I will spend hours and hours looking at photos on websites to identify what it is I’ve taken a picture of.

That’s where the NZ Birds Online website comes in! (drumroll)

It’s got lots of things going for it.

1 – You can search for bird species by location

I’ve been to Kapiti Island and took a gazillion pictures of the residents. Well after that, I can actually compare what I have with what’s there!

NZ Birds Online location filter.

Filter birds by location.

2 – You can filter the list of birds by conservation status

I don’t really have illusions about the kind of birds I have pictures of. I usually take pictures while tramping, therefore I only get sociable and easy to spot birds. Removing the ones that are too absent to be in front of my camera is a great help.

NZ Birds Online conservation status filter.

Filter birds by conservation status

3 – I still haven’t found my bird? Well, I’ll use “Identify that bird”

I have geekily browsed through lots and lots of photos (just because I like it), and sometimes, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (pun intended). That’s when I can use “Identify that bird”, that starts by habitat and then drills down into what birds look like.

NZ Birds Online bird identifier tool.

Still no luck? Use the bird identifier tool

4 – Lots and lots and lots of beautiful gorgeous images!

Did you see that bird on the sea while fishing? Maybe it was scratching its wing on a branch far away… Or you’ve got a blurry shot of a bird in flight. Well, fear not, we have the snap that will make you sure that this IS the bird. There are so many photos for each species of bird that you are sure to find one that’s a match.

And in that process, you have had the chance to look at hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous photos. Some quirky, some cute furballs, some “standard” ones… But what a joy, what a satisfaction to be able to wonder at the beauty of those birds.

I did like birds before, but now I really do love them!

Reproduced with permission. Read more on the Te Papa blog:

The giveaway is now closed. The lucky winner is kākāpō fan Tania Seward of Auckland, who recently visited our Official Spokesbird for Conservation, Sirocco the kākāpō , at Maungatautari.

Buller’s Birds of New Zealand, edited by Geoff Norman, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful books I’ve laid eyes on and, thanks to Te Papa Press, I have the privilege of giving away a copy here on the Conservation Blog.

“This precious and beautiful book is a perfect celebration of the precious
and beautiful birds of the precious and beautiful islands of Aotearoa.”
Stephen Fry

A memorial to a vanished world

This brand new (launched last month) edition contains the complete set of 95 classic 19th century ornithological paintings by John Gerrard Keulemans, reproduced in the most spectacular colour and detail.

Each painting is a masterpiece that I’d happily frame for my wall (although pulling apart this precious cloth-bound book to do so would be criminal – I might have to buy the calendar or cards for that project!).

Aside from the art, the book also has Buller’s original, descriptive text, as well as up-to-date taxonomic information in English and te reo Māori.

It’s valued at $150 and, on the off chance that you don’t win a copy here, you can purchase it from bookshops nationwide or online at

Bush wren/mātuhituhi and rock wren/pīwauwau

Be in to win

To be in to win leave a comment on this post before 12 noon, Monday 12 November 2012, telling us why you want the book. A winner will be selected at random and contacted by email.

The giveaway is open to everyone, except employees of the Department of Conservation and their immediate families; however, we can only ship to New Zealand addresses.

Good luck!

Yellowhead/mohua and whitehead/pōpokotea

Stephen Fry says it best…

“There can be no finer example of the pinnacle of Victorian cataloguing than the stupendously fine work of Buller and Keulemans in their monumental collaboration… this wondrous, perfectly fashioned masterpiece marks a kind of dividing line between the old New Zealand of slaughter and extinction and the new New Zealand, which is one of the most conservation-minded, eco-aware and environmentally progressive nations on earth.

“Keulemans’ unprecedentedly detailed and exquisite images of every New Zealand bird that Buller could spot, catch and describe amount to a supreme work of art the like of which it is hard to find anywhere else in the realm of natural history…

“The re-publication by the Te Papa Press of this pioneering work with an exhaustive, deeply researched, highly readable text by Geoff Norman will be welcomed by scholars, field-workers and enthusiasts the world over. It is a memorial to a vanished world and a reminder of the vulnerability of biodiversity – how millions of years of creation can be undone by only a few centuries of destruction.

“I am dizzy with pride at being offered this opportunity to introduce it to you. This precious and beautiful book is a perfect celebration of the precious and beautiful birds of the precious and beautiful islands of Aotearoa.” – Stephen Fry