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..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..


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.