Date - November 05, 2020
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Aotearoa–New Zealand, Land of Birds

Speaker: Susan Lindee


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(with photos by Imogen Warren)

     There are now 57 known species of extinct New Zealand birds, who disappeared either before humans arrived on the islands in about 1350, before Europeans arrived in 1769, or over the last 250 years.  The Polynesians who followed migrating birds to islands across the Pacific annihilated all of the dozen or more species of giant Flightless Moa.  Europeans brought rats, cats, dogs, and European birds, presumably carrying disease. Industrialization and industrialized agriculture disrupted ecosystems and many stunning birds disappeared.

And yet—what can still be seen in New Zealand today is exceptional, unique, remarkable.  During my trips in December 2019 and January 2020 with my friend Imogen Warren (whom I met on an Australian birding trip some years ago), I fell in love sequentially with the “confiding” Wrybill—the only bird in the world with a beak that is laterally curved; with the Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, a stunning and almost tame creature;  with dozens of surf-landing Little Blue Penguins; and with the unforgettable Giant Petrel, Fernbird, Kaka, Rifleman and Mollymawk.  Bird life in New Zealand is abundant and beautiful.

Today, this gorgeous land–more properly known by its indigenous Maori name Aotearoa–is still a remarkable birding destination. This is my report about my trips.


Susan Lindee                                                    Kea, by Imogen Warren

Susan Lindee is a native Houstonian who probably first got interested in birds when her father adopted a wounded Purple Gallinule.  Because her parents came from southern Louisiana, she grew up visiting the marshes of the Atchafalaya Basin, where her grandfather had a rustic island camp. Roseate Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets (and ‘gators…) were common sights. She has birded in many parts of the world, including Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Morocco, China, and all over Europe and the United States.  The Gulf Coast of Texas remains a favorite spot (Anahuac in spring!).  She is the Janice & Julian Bers Professor of the History & Sociology of Science at UPenn and was Ship’s Historian for a Lindblad tour of the Galapagos Islands in 2017.

Imogen Warren is a middle school teacher in New Zealand and an avid bird photographer, as well as Membership Secretary for Birds NZ, and Editor-in-Chief for Stilt (journal of the Australian Flyways Groups of BirdLife Australia.
Bob Billings Big Year Award Presentation. The November 5 Virtual DVOC meeting will include the presentation of the 2019 Bob Billings Big Year award to Barb Bassett. Barb topped all other participants by seeing 290 species of birds in the DVOC program area in 2019, almost all of them in New Jersey! Her total included 4 species never before sighted during the 9-year history of the competition. Barb will give us a short talk about her big year effort, with members of Bob Billings’ family present via Zoom. The award presentation, normally done at a spring meeting, was delayed by the cancellation of all meetings until recently because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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