Zealandia EcoSanctuary is the jewel in the crown of Wellington City, New Zealand. Home to many rare and endangered native birds, Zealandia is a secret valley in the middle of New Zealand's capital city. Circling Zealandia is a pest-proof fence to keep mammalian predators at bay. Within the fence, the birds can breed in safety. The fence doesn't hold the birds in though, and they are free to spill over into the surrounding suburbs.

The colouring of these birds, though often subtle, is deeply beautiful. But by focusing on black+white, their shades and textures are revealed and we see a different side of them.
Kāruhiruhi - Pied shag
A pied shag (cormorant) and her nestling await the dawn encircled in a sphere of twigs.
Kāruhiruhi - Pied shag
A stately pied shag (cormorant) couple nesting on the lower lake. The startling colours around their eyes is reminiscent of 1970s "Mary Quant" eye-shadow.
"The Interfering Parrot"
A curious adult kākā parrot watches the world go by from a high branch. Highly intelligent and social, kākā readily interact and engage with humans and are regular visitors to neighbouring properties. In the city environment, many well-meaning people feed them, which can lead to dietary imbalances and metabolic diseases, especially in their chicks.
Kākā parrot chicks
Kākā parrots are an iconic sight at Zealandia. But they are imperilled in an urban environment because they like to chew, and this exposes them to lead from old paint and roofing nails. Above, veterinarian Aditi Sriram comforts a kākā nestling after taking a blood sample (the scars on her hands are from taking blood samples from adult kākā parrots). On the right, a kāka nestling looks on apprehensively after being returned to her nestbox to rejoin her siblings.
Kākā climb to the highest branch before taking flight. Although at a glance they appear to be a plain brown colour, their plumage is a delicate mottled mix of brown, orange, yellow, red, maroon, and grey. An excellent camouflage when seen from above - perhaps evolved from evading the giant, but now extinct, Haast's eagle. Under their wings and lower belly, they have striking red and orange feathers.

Kererū - New Zealand wood pigeon
Kererū are another large bird seen at Zealandia. Don't be fooled by the small size of their head and beak. They evolved to eat the largest seeds in the forests and are the only bird with a mouth gape wide enough to eat them. Without kererū, we'd have no native forests as no other bird can disperse the large seeds (with a healthy dose of fertilizer!). Protecting these beautiful birds is vital to our forest health.
A fluffed-up kererū - New Zealand wood pigeon
Toutouwai - North Island robin
A robin fledgling waits with anticipation for her parents to return with food. Highly intelligent, robins are able to do addition and subtraction and make willing participants in cognitive science research studies.
This is only a tiny taste of the wonderful avian wildlife at Zealandia EcoSanctuary. Come and visit and find out what's around the corner... and watch out for low-flying kākā!

All images by Judi Lapsley Miller, except for compositing components used under licence from Photoshop Artistry Grunge Compositing, Awake, and Creative B&W Photo Artistry courses, and from GraphicsStock. Additional Creative Commons content from New York Public Library Digital Collections. 

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