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..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

North Island Fernbird

Scientific name:

 Bowdleria punctata vealeae

Maori Name:

 Mātātā

 

 

Conservation status:

 At risk - declining

Mainland status:

 Limited in range but locally common

Size:

 18cm, 35g

Lifespan:

 Oldest recorded 6.5 yrs

Breeding:

 August – March

Diet:

 Mainly invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:

 2001

Population on Tiri:

 Possibly several hundred (2013)

Total population:

 Fairly plentiful in north and central North Island where habitat is suitable (swampland and scrubland)

Fernbird - photographer: Simon FordhamThe fernbird is a warbler. It is a warm brown shade above, with a paler shade below which is heavily streaked and spotted with dark brown. The forehead and crown are a chestnut brown with a white eye stripe. It has a distinctive long frayed tail which is drooped during flight. Both sexes, adults and juveniles look alike.

Fernbirds are extremely secretive and often remain hidden in thick vegetation, creeping around like a mouse when they do venture out. They prefer not to fly but, when forced to, their flight is weak and noisy and low to the ground. They prey mainly on spiders, caterpillars, flies, moths and beetles. On islands they have been seen eating maggots and flies around dead penguins.

Most fernbirds stay in pairs or small groups all year and don't tend to stray far from their breeding site. They can lay 2-3 clutches per year and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks.

The main call of the fernbird is a double call which consists of a low and a sharp metallic note, 'uu-tick', either by the male on his own or in duet with his mate, who only responds with the 'tick' part of the call. A variety of other calls consist of 'tchip', 'tcheong' and 'zrup' notes. Like many warblers, the fernbird can warble melodically, though this is rarely heard.

Fernbirds (13) were first released on Tiritiri Matangi in June/July 2001 as part of a 'rescue mission' when a new section of the Northern Motorway was due to cross their territory. Another six birds were translocated in May 2002, from the same site as the first 13. More would have been moved if extreme weather had not intervened.  Already in 2002, an unbanded bird was seen on the Island, giving proof that they were breeding.

Although they remain secretive in nature, they are being seen and heard increasingly in all parts of the Island and in all habitats, even mature bush. The populations is difficult to estimate but it could be up to several hundred.

Learn more about the fernbird at New Zealand Birds Online

Photography by Simon Fordham ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking. Rimmer, A. 2004, Tiritiri Matangi: A model of conservation, Random House. OSNZ 2010, Checklist of the birds of New Zealand, Fourth Edition, Te Papa Press.