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Chatham Island Pigeon Picture

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The Parea (Moriori) or Chatham Island Pigeon (Hemiphaga chathamensis) is a bird endemic to the Chatham Islands in New Zealand. Growing to 800g in weight and 55 cm in length, the Parea is a relative of the Kerer? or New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae).

While not rated by IUCN (where considered a subspecies of the Kerer?), it is a threatened species, with a population of around 150 birds largely restricted to the southern forests of Chatham Island/Rekohu (particularly those around the Tuku River). A few have been seen elsewhere on Chatham island and also further afield on Pitt and South East islands. They were common in the 1870s but because of habitat destruction and the predation of mammalian invasive species, the population was reduced to 40 by 1990. Since then, predator control and stock fencing in and around the Tuku valley have resulted in improved breeding success which has led to rapid population growth.

Traditionally considered a subspecies of the Kerer?, it was proposed in 2001 to be distinct enough to be raised to full species status. Few authorities outside New Zealand have followed this, with most still considering it a subspecies.

Because the Chatham Islands have been separated from the mainland of New Zealand for so long, the Parea has evolved differently from its mainland relative, the Kereru. There are a number of differences between the two pigeons. The Parea is heavier than the Kereru and it has a heavier bill. Unlike the Kereru it has an enlarged hind toe which helps it to scrabble about on the forest floor. The Parea generally nests from June to October, while the Kereru nests from September to January. The Parea nests in bracken or fern near the ground while the Kereru prefers to nest in a tree, out of harm's way. The Parea's egg is also much bigger.

Parea feed on the fruits of the hoho, matipo, mahoe and karamu tree, and the foliage of mahoe, hoho and clover. The succulent fruits of the hoho are especially sought after. They are at their best in August and September, which coincides with the peak of the pigeon's breeding season.

Parea are reknown for their spectacular flying dives, especially by the males, to attract a mate. Most breed at 1 to 2 years of age, laying just one egg. Chicks fledge at about 45 days old and become independent at 3 months. They have a life expectancy of up to 25 years.

  1. ^ a b Barrie Heather and Hugh Robertson, "The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand" (revised edition), Viking, 2005
  2. ^ Millener, P. R., and R. G. Powlesland. (2001). The Chatham Island pigeon (Parea) deserves full species status; Hemiphaga chathamensis (Rothschild 1891); Aves: Columbidae. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 31:365-383.
  3. ^ Clements, J. (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. Edition 6. Christopher Helm. ISBN 9780713686951
  4. ^ Dickinson, E. (2003). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Edition 3. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0713665362

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