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 (/..

Rifleman

Scientific name:

 Acanthisitta chloris granti

Maori Name:

 Titipounamu

 

 

Conservation status:

 Endemic. At risk - declining

Mainland status:

 North and South and some offshore Islands. Locally common.

Size:

 8cm long, males 6 g, females 7 g.

Lifespan:

 Oldest known was over 6 years 

Breeding:

 Lays Sep to Dec, two clutches possible. Enclosed nest in tree cavity 

Diet:

 Insects, spiders, moths and beetles and some ripe fruit.


Riflemen were widespread at the time of European settlement but declined with the loss of lowland forest and are now patchily distributed. Because they are unlikely to disperse across water or open habitats, unless humans intervene, loss of this species in fragmented blocks of forest tends to be permanent.
 
 Male Rifleman


The Rifleman is New Zealand’s smallest bird at only 8 cm long. It has rounded wings, a short, stumpy tail and a fine, slightly upturned bill. The male is bright green above while the female is streaked brown above. In poor light, the difference in plumage between the sexes can be difficult to see. Rifleman are most easily found by hearing their distinctive, high-pitched 'zzzptt zzzptt zzzptt' calls, but unfortunately, these are too high-pitched for some people's hearing. They are rarely still and flick their wings repeatedly.

Thirty-one Rifleman were translocated from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island in February 2009 with a further 14 birds transferred 12 months later and 15 birds in April 2011.

Rifleman pairs remain in their territory all year and stay together year after year. They are renowned for climbing tree trunks, like treecreepers, gathering food from epiphytic mosses and lichens. However, food is gleaned at all levels of the forest and occasionally from the forest floor.

  
 Female Rifleman

Rifleman are mainly cavity nesters. On Tiritiri Matangi, some nesting boxes have been utilised although old ponga logs are a popular choice. Except for the entrance, the nest is completely enclosed and lined with leaf skeletons, fern roots, twigs and feathers. Two to five white eggs per clutch are laid from September to December. Both sexes incubate the eggs which hatch after19-20 days and then feed the nestlings until they fledge at about 24 days. Chicks become independent after 4-5 weeks. They may have up to two broods per season. They may begin building a second nest whilst still feeding chicks in the first and will start incubating whilst still feeding the fledglings. Some pairs have one or more helpers attending their nests, often these are unpaired males that then pair with the offspring.

Tiri was only the third recipient of translocated Rifleman and the first to receive birds from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island. Unlike many other species, Rifleman tend not to disperse very far when released. During the first breeding season on Tiri, only one nesting box was used, 5m from the release site.

The first Rifleman translocation was from Codfish to Ulva Islands, both near Stewart Island. Although only about 30 birds survived the release, within 5 years the estimated population on Ulva was around 300.

Learn more about rifleman at New Zealand Birds Online.

 
Photography by Simon Fordham ©