Trick of the light proves fatal for kereru

By Nathan Crombie

A trick of the light has been blamed for the death of a New Zealand wood pigeon that flew into a large picture window at a Masterton home.

Retired farmer Terry Kjestrup said he was saddened to find the lifeless body of the protected bird yesterday morning on the front verandah of the home he shares with wife Zellah in Terrace End.

A powdery white "splat" was smudged in the rough shape of the bird on a large window at the front of the house, he said, and there are large southwest-facing picture windows overlooking Oxford St at the rear.

The couple believe the plump and fully-grown bird may have been tricked by the light of a late afternoon sun on Boxing Day or early yesterday and had attempted a low swoop through the home from a perch in a large conifer tree that stands about 25m tall at the front of the property.

"I'm 88 and I've farmed all my life and hunted all over. I've been around a little bit but I've never seen anything like this.This doesn't happen, shouldn't happen," Mr Kjestrup said.

Mrs Kjestrup said the late afternoon sun lights the house from the rear to the front and the bird must have mistaken a clear flight path where there was none.

Mr Kjestrup said he knew the New Zealand wood pigeon, or kereru, is a protected species and the couple called the Department of Conservation to report the death of the bird.

"We were told to put the body in the freezer and they'll come and get it after the holidays are over," Mrs Kjestrup said.

Mr Kjestrup said the couple had been living at the Terrace End home for about 15 years and trees growing on and near the property attracted numerous birds all year round.

He had in the past sighted wood pigeons in trees near his home, Mr Kjestrup said, and was hoping the dead bird had bred.

The population of the New Zealand wood pigeon is in decline, especially in the North Island.


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