Mum to a mixed brood
'I guess you could say I am their mum'ANGELA CUMING
Guests who call at the Fentress residence at Paterangi would do well to watch where they tread as they could never know when they are likely to chance upon a bird, a clutch of eggs, or even the odd television and movie star.
Judy Fentress – "the Bird Lady of Paterangi"–- shares her home with husband Dave and a whole lot of birds, including one of the pukekos from the Genesis energy television commercials.
From her house, Mrs Fentress runs her bird nursery, hatching eggs for breeders and sanctuaries and often hand-rearing the little ones until they are big enough to fly the coop, so to speak.
At any one time she can have up to 800 eggs incubating in the spare bedroom, from species including chickens and ducks to more exotic breeds such as kingfishers, grey teals, cape barron geese and even the odd kiwi and ostrich.
"I guess you could say I am their mum and it's a job I love," she said.
" But sometimes it can be hard to say goodbye to them."
Among her menagerie are four pukekos, who hold a special place in her heart.
"They really are like family pets, they are just like dogs," she said.
The cheeky birds have the run of the backyard, complete with an inground swimming pool. One of the four is "Newbie", who as a chick starred in one of the award-winning Genesis television commercials.
A pukeko named "Pookster" starred in the first two ads of the series and she was born and raised at the Fentress home, before disappearing from the backyard about two years ago. She was never seen again.
"Oh, I still miss Pookster, she was such a lovely bird," Mrs Fentress said.
"But every time I see those ads I am still so proud of her."
The pukekos are not the only stars of the show.
Mrs Fentress also cares for Arnie the duck, who starred in the 2007 local film Love Birds alongside Rhys Darby, of Flight of the Conchords fame.
"Arnie has been in lots of things but he is sort of in retirement now," she said.
"This place is like a retirement home for Hollywood bird stars."
Mrs Fentress also cares for injured birds, and is now breeding and selling yellow golden and lady amherst pheasants and bantam frizzle chicks.
"I am pretty much the 'go-to woman' for birds in the Waikato," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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