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:

 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.