New chairperson for the Supporters

Date posted: 24-Sep-2015

At our Annual General Meeting, held on Monday 21st September, a new chairperson and committee we..

New edition of field guide published

Date posted: 07-May-2015

Anyone interested in New Zealand birds will be delighted to hear the latest edition of H..

Tiritiri Concert on YouTube

Date posted: 27-Apr-2015

Those who enjoyed Caitlin Smith and Nigel Gavin's wonderful performance at this year's S..

Ecology Journal marks 25 years of Tiritiri

Date posted: 25-Nov-2013

The latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology is dedicated entirely to Tiritiri..

New bequests initiative

Date posted: 09-Sep-2013

Watch out for coverage in the national media this week for a new campaign by 'Include a Charity ..

2013 Photo Competition

Date posted: 27-Jan-2013

It is that time of year again, when we are looking for entries to our photographic c..

Film of the Kokako Week Jazz Concert

Date posted: 03-Oct-2012

Many thanks to Pieter Huisman who made this short film of the wonderful Jazz concert hel..


Date posted: 15-Aug-2012

Sadly, Greg the Takahe died on Sunday 12th August. As many Island regulars will know, Greg had b..

Kiwi Survey a great success

Date posted: 03-Aug-2012

It's Kiwi survey time again on the Island. Here are some selected highlights from a report by Ma..

2012 Photo competition

Date posted: 16-Mar-2012

Yet again we are running our almost famous photo competition on the island so please get your ca..


Scientific name:

 Anthornis melanura melanura

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened.

Mainland status:

 Common throughout NZ south of Waikato

Size:  20cm, 34g (males), 26g (females)


 Oldest recorded 8+ years


 September – January


 Mainly nectar and fruit, some invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:

 Naturally present

The bellbird is a member of the honeyeater family, and as such has a curved bill and a long tongue, frayed at the end like a brush, which is used to reach deeply into flowers and drink nectar. Like the other New Zealand honeyeater, the tūī, they feed on a mixture of nectar, fruit, and insects.  

The male bellbird is a dark olive green, paler on underparts, with a glossy purple head. The female has a similar plumage but none of the purple gloss and has a narrow white stripe across the cheek from the bill. Both sexes have red eyes. The juveniles are like the female but have brown eyes and the cheek stripe is yellowish. Bellbirds have a short curved bill and slightly forked tail.

The bellbird is named for the bell-like quality of its song and when many birds sing at once, mostly during the dawn chorus and at dusk, the famous bell notes are impressive. The song consists of loud clear liquid ringing notes interspersed with grunts and wheezes, not dissimilar to the tūī's grunts and wheezes but slightly more refined. The alarm call is a loud harsh note repeated very rapidly.

Bellbirds have always existed on Tiritiri Matangi and the population continues to grow every year. They have flown across to the Whangaparaoa Peninsular from Tiritiri Matangi and have been observed to be breeding in Manly and in Shakespear Regional Park.

Learn more about bellbirds by visiting New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Kay Milton © (male bellbird, top right), Toby Ross (female bellbird, bottom left) ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.