Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pūkeko standing on one leg

with 22 comments

On February 4th I photographed this pūkeko,* Porphyrio melanotus. Okay, so it wasn’t the February 4th that we had two days ago, but the one in 2015 when I happily took my first-ever photographs in New Zealand. I found this pūkeko in Shakespear** Regional Park at the eastern tip of the Whangaparaoa*** Peninsula north of Auckland.

* A bar (technically called a macron) over a vowel indicates that the vowel is to be pronounced for a longer time than regular vowels. Many languages (but not English) make a distinction between long vowels and regular vowels, so that  would be a different word from pa and have a different meaning.

** That’s not a typo: there’s no e at the end of Shakespear. The name that’s now most commonly spelled Shakespeare was historically spelled in various ways.

*** In words of Māori origin, wh is pronounced f.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2021 at 4:32 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Wow


    February 6, 2021 at 4:35 AM

  2. I remember when you first posted an image of this bird. It reminded me of our Purple Gallinule, which I hadn’t yet seen. I’ve found the Gallinule, but I’ll still have to rely on you for glimpses of this beauty. It looks as though it might be trying to brush the grass crumbs from its beak; it’s an amusing photo, as well as being visually appealing.


    February 6, 2021 at 8:21 AM

    • I seem to remember that the pūkeko uses one foot to lift bits of vegetation to its mouth. Okay, I just went searching and found an old book that confirms it: “When feeding, the Pukeko often lifts the food to its mouth with its claw, as a parrot does.” I’d forgotten that I had a picture showing a foot raised that way; a look in my archives yesterday led to that rediscovery.

      Where the New Zealand bird is Porphyrio melanotus, the purple gallinule in Texas is Porphyrio martinicus, so there’s good reason for you to be reminded of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2021 at 8:59 AM

  3. A very interesting photo of the pūkeko with its unusually large claws! Thank you for delving into the peculiar ways of spelling and pronunciation in other languages, Steve! Reading your blog, I learn something new almost every day.

    Peter Klopp

    February 6, 2021 at 8:58 AM

    • These birds do have large feet, that’s for sure.

      Having studied languages and linguistics for years, I sometimes mention related things I find interesting and that other people aren’t likely to know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2021 at 10:01 AM

  4. A bit of a strange bird with bizarre feet….. 😉


    February 6, 2021 at 11:30 AM

  5. The pūkeko are among our favorite birds here, and this is a most excellent portrait. We see them quite frequently, especially when we get out of the metropolitan area, and they always delight us.


    February 7, 2021 at 1:11 AM

    • It was an auspicious first day for photographing in New Zealand. I can’t remember if I saw pūkeko anywhere else but on the Whangaparaoa Paeninsula. It’s understandable why this colorful bird would be among your favorites.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2021 at 7:17 AM

  6. If you hadn’t said striding I would have guessed scratching. Quite a colorful and interesting creature.

    Steve Gingold

    February 7, 2021 at 2:46 AM

    • I originally put “striding” in the title but later had doubts about whether the bird had been moving forward at that moment or only lifting its foot to its beak.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2021 at 7:19 AM

  7. Its bill/beak and forehead shield are just like armor! What a cool looking bird. It’s one I’ve never seen before.


    February 9, 2021 at 7:10 PM

  8. Super photo Steve .. gosh was it six years ago? One of my favourite birds at our place.


    February 13, 2021 at 12:32 PM

    • It’s been six years since our first visit, four since we saw you. I didn’t remember that you have these birds at your place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2021 at 5:03 PM

  9. Like Linda, I thought of the gallinules, so it was nice to see that you confirmed they are in the same family.
    This one wins the prize for the most unique! It would make a great cartoon character!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    February 25, 2021 at 1:32 PM

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