Birds of the Wairarapa and where to see them
Info Field guide Checklist

Field guide to the birds of Kourarau Dam

Next page

New Zealand Dabchick (Podiceps rufopectus)

Description: Small brownish water bird which dives. Smaller than any duck with rounded body, small head and short sharp beak. Dives for food. Must fly at night between lakes as they shift around but overland flight never observed. Run across the water with wings outstretched splashing on the surface if suddenly disturbed. May also escape by swimming under water. Carries newly hatched chicks on back for first few days.

Habitat: Found on sheltered water of lakes, farm dams and oxidation ponds.

Size: 30 cm

Black Shag (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Description: Our largest shag which is found worldwide. Appears black at a distance with yellowish facial skin and white cheeks. In sunlight wing feathers are coppery-bronze. They bring catch to the surface where fish are juggled until it can be swallowed head-first.

Habitat: Commonly seen on rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters actively diving for prey.

Size: 90 cm

Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos)

Description: Small black and white shag with varying amounts of white on cheeks, throat and underparts. Some adults are entirely black, but much smaller than . Distinguished from (much less common) by short stubby yellow beak. Dries wings like and often shares nesting colony with them.

Habitat: Found on ponds, lakes, rivers and sheltered coastal waters.

Size: 60 cm

White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae)

Description: Our commonest heron. Blue grey plumage with obvious white face often called "blue heron". Nests (not necessarily near water) high in trees (often pine, macrocarpa or eucalyptus). Harsh "kraak kraak" call heard more often when breeding.

Habitat: Commonly solitary and seen on the irrigated pastures of dairy farms, but also rocky coasts, estuaries, lake margins, and rivers.

Size: 70 cm

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Description: Large black swan with white tipped crimson beak displaying a lot of white on the wings in flight. Noisy laborious takeoff with wing tips striking the water. Pleasant bugling calls. Can be a solitary nester but often colonial. Feeds in shallow water by upending to crop submerged plants, but also grazes pasture.

Habitat: Prefers larger ponds and lakes. Breeds here.

Size: 1.2 m

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Description: Large brown goose with black head and neck and obvious white cheeks and chin. Disliked by farmers as they graze grass, and leave behind droppings. Popular game bird and in spite of 30,000 + being shot each year are increasing in numbers.

Habitat: Present on bodies of water as small as Henley Lake size and as large as Lake Wairarapa. Fly in a V formation and have a "honking" call.

Size: 80 cm

Next page

Site Map About this guide