The most enchanting is the South Island Robin. He is a tiny round fellow who stands very tall on long sticklike legs. He is a slate grey color with a creamy breast cover, unless we are looking at his mate who wears a lighter grey costume with a smaller
light patch on her breast. Both sexes are amazingly tame and curious. Their typical foraging method is picking and kicking among the leaf litter on the forest floor. Evolutionary biologists believe that they evolved to follow much larger birds like the moas, catching the insects and invertebrates stirred up by the big-footed birds. That behavior may explain their fearless behavior around us giant two legs. They almost swirled between our legs and we had to be watchful to avoid stepping on them. The island also revealed the colorful and beautiful-voiced bellbirds—hitherto we had only heard their bell-like song but had not actually seen their colors— olive greens, yellow, and some red. We saw baby fairy penguin chicks (now called blue penguins) nestled in boxes provided by DOC personnel. There were brown creepers who behave rather like sapsuckers here and the colorful New Zealand parakeets, olive green with red decorations on their heads. After our rainy day in the Sounds, we were so delighted with the bright blue skies over our heads on Motuara Island! The weather was cool and dry, except for the mud under our boots. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were the only 18 people on the island at a time and that we were being allowed to be here for an hour and a half’s concert of bird song and art show of beautifully feathered and patterned birds. This island paradise must be a real gem among DOC’s many fine “jewelry” items.
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