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:

 Petroica macrocephala

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened

Mainland status: 

 Widespread and locally common, especially in Central NI beech forests


 13cm, 11g 


 3 years


 September - January


 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