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No. 4 (Autumn 1953)
– 44 –

For Younger Readers

NEW ZEALAND BIRD STORIES

Why the Pukeko Lives Near Swamps

Many years ago the pukeko used to live in the hills. One day, however, one beautiful pukeko, dressed in his lovely blue plumage and proudly showing his crimson legs and beak, was walking along and flicking his tail at nearly every step he took, when he came across some Maori children playing near a geyser, not far from their pa. The pukeko patiently watched the happy children playing. When their mother called them away to have some food, the pukeko went to see what toys they had been playing with. He noticed, among other things, a handsome greenstone tiki. Very pleased at finding such a curious object, he decided to show it to the other pukekos. So, taking the tiki in his beak, he hurried home as fast as he could go.

As he was crossing some swampy land, a hungry eel bit his leg. Startled, the pukeko opened his beak, let out a squeak–and so lost the tiki in the swamp.

The poor pukeko felt very sad, for he wanted to return the tiki after he had shown it to his friends. When he told them his unhappy story, they said, ‘Don't worry, we shall all help you to find the greenstone tiki. We shall not live in the hills any more, but near the swamps.’

The pukekos have been looking for the tiki ever since, in the swamps. I hope they find it—don't you?

Why the Red-billed Seagulls Are Quarrelsome

When you come across some red-billed seagulls near the seashore or in our parks, you will be sure to find some noisy, bad-tempered ones among them, who chase the others. This is the story of how it all came about.

Many years ago the nicely-marked, banded dotterel and funny-looking, long-legged pied stilt used to live together, all the year round, in the South Island. They both disliked the winter months because of the cold and snow, but did not know of a warmer place.

One day the pied stilt overheard some red-billed seagulls talking about the better winter climate in the North Island. ‘We shall never tell the stilt and the dotterel and the others about the North Island,’ agreed the selfish seagulls, ‘otherwise they will all go there in winter-time.’

The pied stilt told his friend the dotterel what he had heard the seagulls say, and they decided to visit the North Island when winter came. Sure enough, when the cold weather began they flew away to the North, and liked it so much they decided to come every year.

The seagulls were very cross to see this happen, and began to ask each other who had told the pied stilt, the banded dotterel and other sea-birds their secret about the North Island climate. The seagulls quarrelled among themselves, pecked at each other, and became bad tempered, and even to-day chase one another around with noisy, angry shrieks.