Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

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..


Scientific name:

 Prunella modularis



Conservation status:   Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:

 European introduction, locally common


 6+ years possibly


 14cm, 21g


 August - January


 Small invertebrates, some fruits and seed

This inconspicuous little bird was introduced into New Zealand mainly by Acclimatisation Societies between 1867 and 1882, and is now locally common throughout the mainland in hedges in farmland, orchards, gardens, exotic plantations, scrub and native forest.

Both sexes look alike and superficially resemble a female house sparrow, but the body is slimmer and they have a fine black bill. They are a dull sandy brown, streaked darker upperparts and greyish white underparts, grey around the head and neck, with a warm-brown eye and orange brown legs. The call is a high-pitched insistent tseep. Their song is a thin, hurried warble, shorter and lower in pitch than that of the grey warbler.

Dunnocks feed on the ground mainly, eating beetles, spiders, flies, aphids, ants, worms and some small fruits and seeds.

Breeding is between August and January and 2–3 broods per year are raised. The female, sometimes helped by the male, builds the well concealed nest in a hedge and usually less than two metres from the ground. The nest is a neat bowl of twigs and grass, lined with moss, hair, wool, feathers, tree fern scales. The clutch of 2–5 deep blue eggs is incubated by the female only for 11–14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at 10–14 days. 

Dunnocks have not been recorded on Tiritiri Matangi, though they do occur on some offshore islands.

Learn more about the dunnock at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by Dr Kerry Rogers ©

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