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

KŌKAKO 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:

 Notiomystis cincta

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic. Threatened, Nationally vulnerable

Mainland status:

 Extinct, but re-introduced to a few protected mainland sites


 18cm, 40g (males), 30g (females)


 7 yrs


 September – March


 Mainly invertebrates

First introduced to Tiri:


Population on Tiri:

 188 (February 2004 bird count)

Total population:

 Around 3000 on Little Barrier Island/Hauturu, a few hundred elsewhere



Stitchbird, male - photographer: Peter CrawThe stitchbird used to be considered a member of the honeyeater family, along with tūī and bellbird, but is now placed in a family of its own. It shares some characteristics of the honeyeaters, however, such as a curved bill and a long tongue, frayed at the end like a brush, which is used to reach deep into flowers and drink nectar. Like the two New Zealand honeyeaters, stitchbirds feed on a mixture of nectar, fruit, and insects. At shared nectar sources, stitchbirds tend to be dominated by tūī and bellbirds, and may be forced to feed on lower-grade nectar. On Tiritiri Matangi the stitchbirds' diet is supplemented with sugar solution placed in feeding stations located in areas frequented by them. These are constructed so that tūī cannot enter, but bellbirds are small enough to take a large portion of this food.

The stitchbird is sexually dimorphic, the males being larger and more colourful than the females. The male has a velvety black head, upper breast and back, with white tufts behind the eyes, a bright yellow border across the breast and folded wings, and pale underparts. The white 'ear tufts' and tail are raised as part of the male's aggressive display, shown in the photo on the right. The female is a greyish brown with white wingbars.

Stitchbird, female - photographer: Peter CrawThe stitchbird naturally makes its nest in tree holes. On Tiritiri Matangi, specially designed nextboxes are provided, and nearly all the breeding stitchbirds use these. They have an unusual breeding habits, with two or more males and two or more females sometimes nesting together. 

The adult male has a loud explosive whistle 'see-si-ip', and both sexes give the familiar loud 'stitch' note. They also have a penetrating alarm call 'yeng-yeng-yeng', similar to the bellbird's but higher pitched, and a softer, more gentle, warbling song.

Stitchbirds have been extinct on the mainland since 1885, but have recently been re-introduced to a few protected mainland sites. Between 1885 and 1980 they survived only on Little Barrier Island/Hauturu, but have been translocated to a few islands.  They were first released on Tiritiri Matangi in 1995 and have bred successfully since then. They are closely monitored each year and are the subject of a long-running research programme.

Learn more about stitchbirds at New Zealand Birds Online or at Hihi Conservation the website for hihi researchers and conservationists.

Stichbird conservation in New Zealand is sponsored by

Photography by:  Peter Craw © (Male-top right, female-bottom left).

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