That beautiful song that may wake you at dawn could be the sweet sound of the bellbird/korimako. These sweet sounding birds are common throughout Taranaki.

Their song comprises of three distinct sounds which some describe as resembling the chiming of bells. Just as people from different parts of New Zealand can have regional accents (think of the Southlander’s rolling ‘r’), bellbirds also sing with regional ‘dialects’.

The Maori saying “he rite ki te kopara e ko nei te ata”, means “like a bellbird pealing at daybreak” – a way of complimenting a great speaker or singer.

Bellbirds eat nectar, fruit and insects and often feed in tree canopies but do come down to feed on flax and native fuchsia nectar. As nectar-feeders (or ‘honeyeaters’ as scientists call them), bellbirds are important pollinators of many native plant species, such as mistletoe, fuchsia and kowhai.

Did you know

  • The male bellbird has red eyes while the female has brown.
  • The bellbird is known as the korimako, makomako (mako is also the Maori name for shark), or rearea.
  • Bellbirds are slightly smaller than blackbirds at only 20cm long.
  • 25 Million native birds are killed by predators each year, that’s over 68,000 birds per day
  • Adult males and females have red eyes and juveniles have brown eyes

Photo Ruth Bollongino