Spring has come early this year or at least for those who follow the shining cuckoo's call.
Each year, the bird's unique whistle signals the harbinger of Spring and the start of the warmer months in the Far North.
The shining cuckoo, otherwise known as the shining bronze cuckoo in Australia or pīpīwharauroa in Māori, is a New Zealand native bird that migrates to Aotearoa in summer.
The cuckoo can be found throughout the country and can be identified by its iridescent, dark green wings and white and dark green striped chest.
The bird also has a distinctive whistle which can be described as "tewwww, tew tew tewwww".
Due to its small size and cryptically coloured appearance, it is more often heard than seen.
The cuckoo's first call is usually recorded sometime in September, but local resident Ray Paterson told the Age he'd already heard the bird's call about 10 days ago.
"I still have a property in Awanui which I go and check every day and take the dogs for a run," Paterson said.
"It was there in the late afternoon I heard the distant call of a shining cuckoo on August 21.
"I wasn't sure if what I was hearing was real as it seemed too early and I thought it could have been another bird imitating the sound.
"A few days later, however, I heard the call of the shining cuckoo several times at a closer range.
"That is the earliest I have heard the call because it's normally well into September before you would hear the first call."
The 76-year-old said his interest in birds had developed in childhood where his parents owned a bach at Waiheke Island.
Patterson said he was taught the call of the shining cuckoo as a young boy and had listened out for it ever since.
"I have been living in the Far North for 45 years where I've worked outside most days in my market gardens," he said.
"In the last 25 years before I retired I ran a tamarillo orchard and during that time I learned to distinguish the various calls of different birds.
"I've always had a love and interest in birds- of the feathered kind- and on at least two occasions, have had to rescue a couple of shining cuckoos who knocked themselves out flying into our ranch-slider door.
"For the past 10 years, I have also had a pair of moreporks or ruru in a tree at the back of the shed at my property in Awanui.
"Each year they nest in a hole there, with one or two young moreporks appearing in mid-December. They usually stay with their parents until late January."
The New Zealand shining cuckoo subspecies breeds only in New Zealand (including the Chatham Islands) but other subspecies breed in southern Australia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and on Rennell and Bellona Islands (Solomon Islands).
Like other cuckoos around the world, the shining cuckoo will lay its eggs in the nests of Grey Warbler "foster parents", which will go on to raise their chicks.
The bird is found mainly in stands of willow, eucalyptus and some of the taller native plantings, such as at Styx Mill Conservation Reserve.
The shining cuckoo typically leaves New Zealand in April and will migrate to wintering areas on islands in the South-West Pacific.