New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

Brown Teal

Scientific name:

 Anas chlorotis 'North Island'

Maori Name:




Conservation status

 Endemic. At risk - recovering

Mainland status:

 Mainly in Northland and Coromandel (though main population is on Great Barrier Island/Aotea)


 48cm, 600g (males), 500g (females)


 6+ years recorded in the wild


 June – October


 Mainly aquatic or marine invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:


Population on Tiri:

 24 (November 2011)

Total population:

 2000-2500 (2012)

Brown Teal - photographer: Barbara HughesThe brown teal is a warm brown with a dark brown mottled breast
, brown eyes with a narrow white eye-ring. The bill is blue-black. The breeding male has a glossy green sheen on his head, a narrow white collar and a white flank patch.

The brown teal is one of the world's rarest ducks. It was once common but declined in numbers due to predation (by cats, dogs and mustelids) as well as a loss of habitat. It was also hunted until 1921, since when it has been protected under law.

The brown teal calls differ between the sexes. The males give soft, high pitched wheezy whistles and popping calls, the females give low quacks and growls. 

Brown Teal - photographer: Val SmythemanBrown teal are strongly territorial during the breeding season. The nest is a bowl of grass under tussock or fern. The male guards the territory while the female incubates and subsequently raises the brood.

Brown teal eat mainly aquatic or marine invertebrates but on Tiritiri Matangi they have been observed eating vegetation. They often feed at night, and visitors on night walks often come across them on the Island's tracks.

Brown teal were released on Tiri in 1987 and again in 1989 and 2002. The birds released in 2002 were monitored by a research student, and unfortunately four of them were predated within a month of release, probably by harriers. They have always struggled to maintain their numbers on the Island. Although they breed regularly, chicks have a high mortality rate due to the presence of natural predators (not just harriers, but also eels, pūkeko and black backed gulls). Some birds almost certainly leave the Island of their own accord; males, especially, may migrate to nearby estuaries for the winter intending to return for the next breeding season. While away from the Island they are vulnerable to introduced as well as native predators. Some are suspected to have died of botulism.

Learn more about brown teal at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Barbara Hughes © (top right), Val Smytheman © (bottom left)

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