Antipodean Bird-Life 1

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Abstract

IN an illustrated pamphlet bearing the date 1903, and 1. published at the Government Press, Wellington, Mr. R. Henry, who has for many years acted as caretaker of the bird-reserve on Resolution Island, furnishes a fund of interesting information with regard to the habits and life-history of the flightless birds of New Zealand, with notes relating to other species. As he himself remarks, if anybody ought to know what there is to be known about New Zealand birds it is the author, who has, willy-nilly, enjoyed exceptional opportunities of observing them. As might have been surmised, a large amount of space is devoted to the birds commonly known in this country as kiwis (Apteryx). It appears, however, according to the author, that this usage is not justified, the name kiwi belonging by right only to the grey species and its immediate relatives, while such species as A. australis and A. oweni are designated roa? by the Maori. Very interesting are the author?s observations with regard to the breeding habits of these birds, among which the cock assumes the office of incubation. As regards kiwis, it is stated that although they live in nearly the same situations as rowas, they prefer open ground, while the latter seek the densest shade of the forest.? Kiwis generally have white grubs in their stomachs, with things like big maggots, wire-worms, and all that class, while the roas depend more upon earthworms, water-insects, and berries.? When a roa becomes conscious of the presence of intruders it alters its usual stealthy gait to a loud tramp. Is this, it may be asked, defiance?

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