The territorial impulse runs deep – especially when you’ve got a family to protect.

Loud was the shouting from the Paradise Shelducks, so we rushed out to see what was up.

The two young are a good size now, fully fledged, and pot-ready (just joking!), but the parent Paradise still escort them everywhere.

So when a rash foreign male had ventured into the little lake, where “our” family of four were in residence, “our” male bird went on the offensive.


By the time I grabbed the camera, the males had each other by the neck, beating at each other with their wings.IMG_8324

The female was hovering, looking to intervene.  (Unusually for birds, she’s the more colourful of the pair, with her white head and auburn plumes.)

She was circling the fighting pair, honking. Encouragement? Or an attempt at mediation?

After they’d been struggling for several minutes, she literally waded in, climbing over their threshing wings.  The young birds were hovering, observing, learning?


Then – one drake had the other motionless in the shallows, standing on it, in the conquering hero pose.

Mani’s mind turned to duck for dinner. It wouldn’t do to waste a gift from nature.


IMG_8328But a sudden flurry and scurry…  the under-duck had only been playing possum, and was off into the bushes faster than I could click.

Our Paradise pair celebrated with much mutual congratulation, cleaning and preening.


And then I wondered…  I was assuming it was our loyal pair, triumphant. But what if it was actually a darker story, and we’d just seen a violent change of partners?

No.  I’m convinced all is well.  They’re back on patrol, watching over their young with the effortless routine of an established parental pair.

Back on duty... heads down and shoulders hunched, to see off the pukekos and their chicks

Back on duty… heads down and shoulders hunched, to see off the pukeko which is appropriately showing the white feather!

And … as I write this … four paradise fly past the window.  The young have their wings.   Poor things, for their days of parental protection are now numbered.  The next chapter in this drama will see them sent packing – and birds don’t take their young back home when the real world gets altogether too hard.

An earlier year's  first take-off.  These young birds would be five-year-olds now.   Somewhere.  If they've not met a man with a gun.....

An earlier year’s first take-off. These young birds would be five-year-olds now.
Somewhere. If they’ve not met a man with a gun…..