Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bird: wax-eye

The silvereye, also known as wax-eye, or white-eye, because of their conspicuous white ring around the eye. The head and upperparts are olive green with a grey band across the back which extends around the chest. The underparts are a peachy brown with white under the tail. This is a New Zealand Native bird.

Maori names for this bird are, pīwaiwaka, pīwakawaka, tīrairaka, tīrakaraka, tīwaiwaka.

They come and eat the fruits of my garden, and also compete with the sparrows and other birds for the bread and rice I throw out in the garden.

Silvereyes were recorded in New Zealand as early as 1832 but it was not until 1856 that they arrived in very large numbers. It is assumed that a storm caught a migrating flock and diverted them here. The Maori name means “stranger”. Because the silver–eye colonised New Zealand naturally, it is classified as a native species and is therefore protected.

It is now one of the most abundant of New Zealand birds and will be found everywhere excepting open grassland habitats. They were at first welcomed by the early settlers and were called the “blight bird” as they soon set to work in gardens and orchards and cleared out the aphides and scale insects including the very obnoxious woolly aphids that infested apple trees, but they soon outstayed their welcome when it was discovered the damage they could do to fruit crops. As Buller said, “In our gardens and orchards it regales itself freely on plums, cherries, figs, gooseberries, and other soft fruits; but it far more than compensates for this petty pilfering by the wholesale war it carries on against the various insects that affect our fruit trees and vegetables”.

The bird in the top pix is perching on my railing of my back stairs.

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