Gathan Beaga

interview with a falcon

Once again, I am the “campaign manager” for the New Zealand Falcon in this year’s Bird of the Year poll. I submitted the following to the Forest & Bird blog in support of the Falcon, where it was published early last week.

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Recently, I managed to obtain an interview with Kakarapiti, a cocky young male kārearea resident in Wellington, to ask who we should vote for for Bird of the Year. His answer was not what I expected.

AM: What do you spend your time on at the moment?

I spend my time on the three "F"s: Flying, Feeding, and, er, Finding a Mate. That’s quite a lot of action to fit into each day. Especially at this time of year where that third “F” is most important.

AM: OK, we’ll try and keep it short. Tell me who should be New Zealand’s Bird of the Year 2010?

Well, I am a fan of blackbirds. They sit in exposed spots and sing about how they own the neighbourhood or something—to be honest I’ve never really listened to their witterings—but the really nice thing is that when they are startled they sometimes fly straight straight up, which means if you time your stoop right you can let them fly right into your talons. Most satisfying.

AM: Hang on a bit there. New Zealand Bird of the Year is when we choose what bird we like the best, not which bird we like to eat the best. Generally we humans like colourful, cute things with nice singing voices–

Pointless! An earful of song never got your belly full. The feathered I like best are the feathered that feeds me. Look, you asked the question, and I shall answer it.

I like ducks, though I am too small to catch them by myself. That is something I hope to do with my future mate. My nest-mother and nest-father once brought a duck back for my sister and I before we fledged. We feasted for a day!

Sparrows are OK, though small. I don’t like starlings. They taste bad. But there are so many of them. And food is food.

AM: You’ve named only introduced birds. Why’s that?

You mean the feathered that arrived with the plague of you? Well, there are so many more of those.

But yes, a tuī is always nice. They think they are so tough in numbers, but they will all take cover when they hear me. I wonder about kaka, but they are a little too smart and large to be easy prey. In days past our larger cousins would have made kaka their prey.

I’m told there are lots of interesting feathered that come out only at night time. There is one, the kiwi, that is much liked by you featherless. What does it taste like?

AM: You can’t eat a kiwi!

What? So you like them, without tasting of them? That does not make sense. I want to taste one. There is a wooded valley not far from here full of the feathered of these islands, and even some kiwi. But that area is already held by a nesting pair and I dare not go there.

I forgot. Another feathered I really like are those white ones some of you keep.

AM: You are talking about pigeons? You realise that’s a bit upsetting, you eating those. They’re our pets you know.

“Pets”? I just do not understand you featherless. If you do not eat them, why do you keep them? Look, they are really easy for me to catch. I just have to wait close by until one of you lets them all out. So easy.

Easy is good. Easy means I have time to do the other two "F"s. Furred and feathered alike, and especially young males, look for the easy. When you were young, what was the easy way for you to get food?

AM: I used to raid the fridge.

All right then. You may think of me as “raiding the fridge”.

AM: Uhhh, OK. Nearly finished now. Last question: How do you feel about being anthropomorphised so shamelessly?

Personally, I do not care. But I think it reflects pretty badly on you so-called brainy monkeys that you have to make your representations of us talk and think like yourselves before you can understand and respect us.

But what would I know: I’m only a bird.

And with that, he was off.

Vote New Zealand Falcon / Kārearea for Bird of the Year. Just don’t eat them.

When not Flying, Feeding, or Finding a mate, Kakarapiti may be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kakarapiti.

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As it happens, I did manage to take a picture of the resident falcon from our deck last week. But the picture is a little underwhelming:

You'll have to take my word for it...

I’ll have to keep trying. I know they’re around: yesterday morning, at about 5:40am, a falcon woke me up. That hunting cry is pretty alarming, and I’m not even a small bird. And friends of ours watched one eat its prey, perched on their neighbour’s rooftop in Ngaio.

The falcons are out there.