Guest blogger: Poet & Campaign Manager for the Pied Stilt, Sam Hunt  

Ed’s note: Sam Hunt lives amongst the birds in the Kaipara Harbour, so I asked him to be a campaign manager for one of his favourite neighbours – the pied stilt –  a bird which has polled poorly in our annual Bird of the Year competition. Here’s his response. Mandy


Pied Stilt, Photo: Craig McKenzie

There aren’t too many birds I don’t love in some way or other. And it’s a tough ask, to choose your favourite.

I’ll give it a go and say poaka. There’s nothing I don’t love about these birds. I love the way they don’t give too much of a toss about nests. A few sticks and twigs do the trick. So long as it carries the eggs safely.A scoop on a sandbank, again, a few twigs. That’s home.

After at least fifty years, watching these birds, I can still be fooled by their “broken wing” display. This is defence of that nest, of home. If a stilt’s nest is threatened, they’ll affect a broken wing and a broken leg, tumble down the shoreline, distracting the intruder completely. It’s a stunning performance.

James K. Baxter noted the pied-stilt in his poem, ‘Waipatiki Beach’, talked of their cry “like a creaking door”. There is always that feeling of entry  –  each time you enter their world.

Lots else I could say. But enough, that when they fly overhead  –  and they do that often around here  – their in-flight cry is as good as crying gets. And they look like immaculately furled black-and-white umbrellas.

Sam Hunt, Kaipara Harbour, 2009

Polls open for the Bird of the Year competition in mid-September.

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Leave a comment »

  1. September 1, 2009 6:38 pm
    Helen says

    That photo is amazing – how can legs that thin hold up anything? And love the black and white umbrellas.

  2. September 21, 2009 3:17 pm
    Valerie Stewart says

    What a beautiful photo of this little known bird (to me) this will certainly get my vote, good on you Sam
    heard you on kiwi radio this morning

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