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Baby bellbirds practice their tunes

Zoo News - Posted 8 May 2014


Not to be outdone in the cute stakes by the babies popping up in other parts of Hamilton Zoo, the birds are holding their own with beautiful baby bellbirds now venturing out in the free-flight aviary delighting visitors by practising their songs.

A male bellbird was transferred from Auckland Zoo on 3 September 2013 to be paired up with the female in the free-flight and the attraction was immediate.

“The pair have been really successful and they’ve raised two clutches of babies resulting in the five chicks now in the aviary,” says Samantha Kudeweh, Hamilton Zoo Curator.

“They are very visible and cute as they practice their songs. A really great addition to the aviary, and an iconic song to delight our visitors.”

Native to New Zealand, bellbirds are found in native and exotic forest, scrub, farm shelter belts, urban parks and gardens throughout the North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands but are rare on the mainland from Waikato northwards. At least nine attempts have been made to translocate bellbirds to islands or mainland sites prior to 2012 without much success. None has yet resulted in a well-established population.

The bellbird song is a welcome sound in mainland forests that otherwise may have little native bird song. They have a brush-like tongue which they use to reach deeply into flowers for their nectar but they also feed on fruits and insects. In feeding on nectar they play an important ecological role in pollinating the flowers of many native trees and shrubs and in feeding on the fruits that result from this pollination they have a role in dispersing the seeds and regeneration of the forest in at least two ways.  

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