Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: South Island robin

with 30 comments

When we walked along a shaded trail at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary on February 27th we came upon a bird that hopped about and flitted around close to us without seeming afraid. I later learned from head guide Sue Hensley that the bird was a South Island robin, Petroica australis. The behavior we observed is confirmed (and much more information is added) at New Zealand Birds Online: “Where robins are regularly exposed to people, such as along public walking tracks, they become quite confiding, often approaching to within a metre of a person sitting quietly. Juveniles will sometimes stand on a person’s boot.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

30 Responses

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  1. A grand capture! A NZ forest is a special place….


    May 29, 2017 at 7:53 AM

  2. I’ve had a NZ South Island robin sit on my boot. I figured it was checking me out to add to its “Life List”. Nan

    Emma N Hampton

    May 29, 2017 at 9:03 AM

    • Great way to put it, Nan. Thanks for your testimonial about the bird’s friendliness—the same behavior mentioned in New Zealand Birds Online.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2017 at 10:56 PM

  3. what a beauty


    May 29, 2017 at 9:15 AM

  4. Thanks for the birdie uplift. Reminds me of the jays in Florida who will also perch on people’s heads, if convenient.


    May 29, 2017 at 9:43 AM

  5. Now that looks like a proper Robin (in shape and size if not in colour), not like the US version at all.


    May 29, 2017 at 10:37 AM

  6. It’s interesting that the European, American, and New Zealand robins are different genera. I must say, each has its charms. This one’s coloration and interesting feathers certainly set it apart: as does its friendliness. Its behavior reminds me of our chickadees, who can be trained to hand-feed rather easily.

    Since there are references to the robin in England and Europe as far back as the 1700s (“Who Killed Cock Robin?”) and even earlier, I’m wondering if the name wasn’t carried to the Americas and New Zealand by emigrants. That would explain the same common name for the different birds.


    May 29, 2017 at 10:17 PM

    • I’m pretty sure you’re right. Sometimes an extra qualifier was added to show that despite the similarities the animals or plants in question were different. As a result, here we have an American robin (genus Turdus) and in New Zealand a South Island robin (genus Petroica). In the world of plants, England has a bishop’s weed and Texas has a prairie bishop’s weed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2017 at 10:53 PM

  7. Very cute little fellow! And I liked in the description “they become quite confiding,” I’m sure in the sense of “trusting,” but which made me think, they hop up with some small private matter they want to share with you. Tipping you off about an impending rise in the cost of earthworms perhaps.

    Robert Parker Teel

    May 30, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    • Thanks for confiding in us with your interpretation of “confiding.” I’m glad the robin had confidence in me as a photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2017 at 10:20 PM

  8. Beautiful shot Steve


    May 30, 2017 at 7:52 PM

    • I was fortunate to have this bird near me and fortunate to have a long enough lens to take advantage of the opportunity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2017 at 10:24 PM

  9. How wonderful! Just like an infrared version of our European Robin. Or at least what I imagine my robin photos would look like if I did an infrared black and white conversion! I didn’t know that these existed in NZ so it’s lovely to see 😀

  10. When walking forest trails here in NZ the robin is indeed a curious and delightful little bird.


    June 8, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    • That was my experience at Orokonui. I wish I’d had the chance to walk more forest trails in NZ.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2017 at 9:26 PM

  11. […] not with one stone or several, but with a camera, of course. The other bird that I managed to get a picture of at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary northeast of Dunedin on February […]

  12. Wow, great up close photo of this little fellow.


    June 27, 2017 at 9:21 PM

    • On each of my two trips to New Zealand I got several good pictures of birds. My New Zealand bird quota is higher than my American one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2017 at 10:00 PM

      • Time to get out in your homeland 😊


        June 27, 2017 at 10:14 PM

        • I spend a huge amount more time outdoors here than I ever could in New Zealand. Over the years I’ve occasionally gotten some good bird pictures in central Texas and other parts of the United States, but the frequency in New Zealand was higher. Maybe it was the thrill of the new.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 27, 2017 at 10:26 PM

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