Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Russia's 'kiwi' came from closer to home
KIRSTY JOHNSTON Last updated 09:50 11/05/2011
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REED ALL ABOUT IT: A Eurasian bittern blends in nicely in its marshy habitat.

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust A BITTERN DIFFERENT: A kiwi chick. Getty Images MASTER OF DISGUISE: An American bittern mimics a reed by pointing its beak skywards.
The story of a kiwi bird gone rogue in a Russian city has turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

Russian media had reported that the kiwi was found in a garden in the port city of Sochi, where it had been hiding out for at least three days.

Speculation was rife as to how the kiwi arrived in Russia, with some believing it had been smuggled on a cruise ship.

However, after viewing a picture of the bird yesterday, Zoologist Alexander Kornilov instead identified the bird as a common bittern, Russian BBC reported.

Bitterns, which are found throughout Europe, North Africa and central Asia, migrated through the region of Sochi each spring, Kornilov said.

"Probably one of the birds hit the wires, damaged the wing and so she stayed in Sochi. The situation is quite common," he said.

The Department of Conservation, which had been investigating the reports, said it wasn't surprised by the result.

It warned yesterday that similar reports had turned out to be hoaxes.

However, the mistake may have been a genuine one.

Russian news site Pravda said the bittern in the Sochi garden probably would have resembled the Kiwi in appearance, as they typically moved along the ground while in the park.

Like kiwi, Bitterns are shy, secretive and more likely to be heard than seen, according to a BBC description.

The plump heron-like birds are described as having "subtle brown plumage" which blends almost perfectly into its reed-bed habitat.

Even when frightened, the bittern stands perfectly still pointing its neck and bill skywards, to look just like a reed stalk.

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