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{ else }   Blog: Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)  
Also called parson bird, is a member of the honey eating (Meliphagidae) family found only in Indonesia, Australia, NZ and the South-west Pacific (also Hawaii). The tui is widely distributed in forest areas throughout NZ, and also in scrub, parks and gardens, but rarely in beech forests. It is about 30cm long, coloured metallic green, purplish black and reddish brown, and with a double white throat-tuft, lacy white collar on back and sides of neck and white wing bars. The bill and feet are blackish-brown. The female at 29cm, has a smaller throat-tuft and paler reddish brown abdomen. It feeds on insects, fruits and nectar. Although the tui's song resembles the liquid notes of the bellbird (also of the Meliphagidae family), the richer notes are more fluid and resonant and can vary from district to district, and there is a greater tendency to intersperse harsher, comic and imitative notes.

A bulky nest of sticks, moss and grasses is built 3 to 15 cm off the ground. Often a double brood of two to four white or pale pink, speckled eggs are laid between November and January (occasionally as early as September). During the 14 days the female incubates, the male sings in a nearby tree.

Posted: Jun 9, 2008 1:04pm | (0) | (0) |  
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{ else }   Blog: Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)  
Tuatara is NZ's most distinctive creature, a living relic which has survived its fellow beak-headed reptiles, Rhynchocephalia, by about 100 million years. It closely resembles lizards outwardly, but there are anatomical differences. The tuatara once lived on the mainland of NZ, but now survives mainly on two groups of islands-one off the north-east of the North Island and the other in Cook Strait. It grows very slowly, maturing sexually after about 20 years, and achieving its maximum size of about 60cm and up to 1 kg for males after about 60 years.

The tuatara is basically nocturnal although it is sometimes active for short periods during the day. Adults feed on beetles, snails, wetas and occasionally on the eggs and young of seabirds. The female lays about a dozen eggs around November, after mating in January, and buries them in loose soil and then leaves them. The young hatch in about 15 months and live on insects and earthworms.

The Rhynchocephalia thrived throughout the major land masses about 200 million years ago. All other representatives of this group of reptiles became extinct 100 million years ago. All other living reptiles belong to one of the three other reptilian orders.

Posted: Jun 6, 2008 8:48pm | (0) | (0) |  
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