The Other Western Springs: Birds in New Zealand

There's one other place in the world called "Western Springs," and it's filled with bird life (and the occasional rock band.)

To our knowledge, there is only one other place in the world called "Western Springs" besides the Illinois town: a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, best known for three things: 1.) Western Springs Stadium, a large sports, racing and concert venue, 2.) the Auckland Zoo and 3.) Western Springs Park, a large green area and pond featuring a wide variety of bird life.

Julie Pendray, editor of Sonoma Valley Patch in California, recently visited family in New Zealand and brought back a video and some photos of pukekos and swans in the park. For your enjoyment, and from halfway around the world: the other Western Springs!

(This article originally appeared on Sonoma Valley Patch.)


Western Springs is known for its sounds, be they enchanting bird song or Led Zeppelin. Over the years, the west Auckland concert venue and lakeside park have drawn The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Eagles, Elton John, Rod Stewart and a host of other acts...as well as some humble swamp hens known as pukekos (pron. poo-keck-ohs).

This short video is another in a series taken on my recent trip to see family in New Zealand. I couldn't help but whip out my camera and grab scenes like this that I thought Sonoma Valley readers would find interesting. (Note to self, to avoid hissing parental swans with outstretched necks, do not approach from behind.)

The Doobie Brothers, who performed at B. R. Cohn Winery over the weekend, performed at Western Springs Stadium in 1976. I recall seeing Alice Cooper, Bowie and The Hollies there in my college days too.

Listening to The Doobies at the Glen Ellen winery on Sunday took me back a few decades. I was really happy to shake guitarist Pat Simmons' hand as he came off stage and tell him I'd grown up in New Zealand listening to the band. What an amazing moment. I had just arrived back from New Zealand the day before.

Back to the humble hens, which I find ridiculously adorable... If you listen closely to this video, you'll hear a variety of bird sounds, as well as a few humans. The birds wander freely around the lake and people sometimes feed them.

Besides the stadium and lake, Western Springs also houses Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology ("MOTAT").

To see the rest of this series from my New Zealand trip, click these links to hear Maori singing and see the Auckland waterfront.


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