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The perfect literary celebration of New Zealand birds.

A lively anthology of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, celebrating the birds of Aotearoa.

On the skyline
a hawk
languidly typing
a hunting poem
with its wings.
- Hone Tuwhare

New Zealand birds have inspired mythology, song, whimsical stories, detailed observation, humour and poetry. There are tales of shooting and taxidermy as well as of admiration and love. From the kakapo, kokako and kaka to the sparrow, starling and seagull, both native and imported birds have been immortalised in print.

This is a varied and stimulating selection from the flocks of New Zealand writers who have given our birds a voice. They have brought extinct birds back to life and even enabled the kiwi to take flight on the page.


Bird Words, edited by Elisabeth Easther, is rewarding on many fronts. It traces the history of our close engagement with birds from the earliest colonial discoveries (and killings) to the evolution of a far more nurturing culture. It features a careful balance of 62 works of fiction, essays and poetry, some of which will be new to many readers. It is also pretty, complemented by the dainty drawings of natural history illustrator Lily Daff. . . . Bird Words sings so directly to the heart.

Linda Herrick, NZ Listener

Well-known writer and actor Elisabeth Easther put the call out for new work about birds and has found some lovely gems for this little treasure of a book. It's filled with whimsical and funny stories, poetry and tales of shooting and even taxidermy. Birds fill all our lives.

Linda Thompson, Bay of Plenty Times

Bird Words is a charming, delightful collection of fiction and non-fiction on our varied avian wildlife. . . . There's a vast range of stories, from journalism to poetry and even a short play . . . This book will make an excellent gift for Christmas, whether it be for a loved one or a treat for yourself. Buy it.

Doug Anderson, Otago Daily Times

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    October 2, 2017

    RHNZ Vintage

    240 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory




The moa was not the brightest bird
And couldn’t fly, which sounds absurd

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