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

KĊŒKAKO 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:

 Mohoua albicilla

Maori Name:




Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened

Mainland status:

 Widespread and locally common on NI, though not north of Tauranga


 15cm, 18.5g (males), 14.5g (females)


 Average 5 years


 September - December


 Mainly invertebrates, some fruit

First introduced to Tiri:


Population on Tiri:

 c 1,000

Total population:

 Locally abundant

Whitehead, adult - photographer: Peter CrawThe whitehead male has a white head and underparts, the female and juvenile are similar but crown and nape are shaded brown. Both sexes have pale brown upper parts and black legs, bill and eye.

Whiteheads are usually found in flocks high in the forest canopy where they flurry about looking for insects. Their main prey is spiders, caterpillars, moths and beetles, often dislodged by other feeding birds. They tend to feed in flocks around other invertebrate feeders such as silver-eye, parakeets, saddlebacks and fantails. They are often seen hanging upside down to feed.

Breeding is a family affair; parents and their offspring from previous years gather together to defend their territory while the main female builds the nest. The male and older siblings help to feed the chicks during the fledging period and sometimes up to nine months after the chicks have fledged.
Whitehead, juvenile - photographer: Peter CrawThe whitehead has a variety of calls, mainly a very busy buzzing or background chatter whilst they bustle above the canopy.

In the North Island the whitehead is the main host to the long-tailed cuckoo, which lays its eggs in the whitehead's nest, and is known to prey on the whitehead's eggs and young. The young cuckoo, on emerging from the shell, evicts the host's eggs and chicks and is then raised alone. The whiteheads continue to feed the cuckoo as if it was their own, even though it is many times larger than themselves.

Whiteheads were first released on Tiritiri Matangi in 1989 and again in 1990. Since then the population on the Island has prospered, and is often estimated to be around 1000 individuals.

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

Photography by:  Peter Craw © adult (top) and juvenile (bottom)

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