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 (/..

Whitehead

Scientific name:

 Mohoua albicilla

Maori Name:

 Popokatea

 

 

Conservation status:

 Endemic. Not threatened

Mainland status:

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

Size:

 15cm, 18.5g (males), 14.5g (females)

Lifespan:

 Average 5 years

Breeding:

 September - December

Diet:

 Mainly invertebrates, some fruit

First introduced to Tiri:

 1989

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.