More plaudits for Tiritiri Matangi

Date posted: 15-Jul-2019

Recognition of the wonderful experience visitors have when visiting the Island h..

Results of the 2019 Photo Competition

Date posted: 15-Jul-2019

The results of this year's competition have now been decided. Click here (/2019-photo-co..

Lighthouse Open Day

Date posted: 30-Apr-2019

Our historic lighthouse, signal station and diaphonic foghorn will all be on dis..

We need a new Treasurer

Date posted: 08-Apr-2019

The Supporters need a new treasurer to take over in September when Kevin Vaughan..

2019 Concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2019

OrigiNZ, the tartan taonga are returning for the 2019 concert. Click..

Tiri's three unique foghorns

Date posted: 01-Feb-2019

Our next social event will take place on Monday 18th March when Carl Hayson and ..

Young Conservation Superstars win awards!

Date posted: 27-Jan-2019

Gabriel Barbosa and teacher Kate Asher, a team leader who co..

Entries for the 2019 photo competition

Date posted: 19-Jan-2019

We are now taking entries for the 2019 photographic competition. You can enter u..

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..

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.