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 (/..

Tomtit

Scientific name:

 Petroica macrocephala

Maori Name:

 Miromiro

 

 

Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened

Mainland status: 

 Widespread and locally common, especially in Central NI beech forests

Size:

 13cm, 11g 

Lifespan:

 3 years

Breeding:

 September - January

Diet:

 Invertebrates, small fruits in autumn and winter

First introduced to Tiri:

 32 in 2004

Population on Tiri:

 Occasional vagrant males


Tomtit, female - photographer: Barbara HughesThis small forest bird has a large head with a small white spot above the bill and a short tail. The male has a black head, glossy black upperparts and upper breast and white underparts, divided at the breast, a white wingbar and sides to the tail. The female has a brown head and upperparts, grey brown chin and upper breast fading to white on the underparts. The wingbar and sides of the tail are pale buff. The male call is a short high-pitched ‘swee’ and he sings with a warbling ‘ti oly oly oly oly oh’.  The female call is a reedy ‘seet’.

Tomtit eat mainly invertebrates (spiders, beetles, caterpillars, moths, weta, earthworms, flies, stick insects and wasps), supplemented with small fruits in autumn and winter. A ‘watch and wait’ method is used – perching and scanning an area and then flying to catch the prey, usually on a nearby trunk or branch.  Insects are also gleaned from leaves and small branches. 

Tomtit, Male - photographer: Barbara HughesPairs maintain their territory all year and mate for life. Breeding is between September and January, during which up to three broods may be raised. The female builds a bulky nest of twigs, bark, fibre and moss, bound with cobwebs and lined with tree-fern scales, moss and fine grasses. The nest is either in a tree cavity, in the end of a broken branch, in a fork attached to the trunk of a tree fern or in a thick tangle of vines. In January 2004, tomtit nests in the Hunua pine forests were found in forked branches of gorse and at the top of decaying pampas grass. The clutch of 3 – 6 cream-coloured eggs with yellowish purple spots is incubated by the female for 15 – 17 days. The chicks fledge at 17 – 20 days, and continue to be fed by both parents until the female starts renesting while the male takes full care of them until they are independent at about 35 days old. 


Female tomtit - photographer: Barbara HughesTo Māori the miromiro is one of Maui’s birds and is a significant bird, being esteemed with the huia, the royal albatross and white heron. An observant person is spoken of as, 'he karu miromiro',  'having a tomtit eye' and Māori called tomtits 'scouts' or  'torotoro' due to their habit of appearing from nowhere in the forest. 'He manu aroha te miromiro' - 'the miromiro is the lovebird', and it had a place in Māori rituals for birth, tohunga, and a new pa.

Vagrant male tomtits are seen on Tiritiri Matangi in most years but they disappear after a few days. 

A translocation of miromiro (North Island tomtit) to Tiritiri Matangi took place at the end of April 2004. The birds were sourced from the Waytemore pine forests in the Hunuas, south east of Auckland city. They did not settle on the Island, however, and at least one was seen later back in the Hunuas.

Find out more about the tomtit at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Barbara Hughes © (female, top right and bottom right, male, left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.
Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds. www.nzbirds.com/Miromiro.html