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(from K is for KIWI,Reed)

There are so many things that begin with C, like caterpillars, cuckoos and crabs.   Chrysalis that dangle, soon to be free, clematis that hangs from the top of a tree.  A cranefly, a crake or a crack in the wall, they all have their place, wether large or small, they are part of the chain that links us all.




TUI        Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae    FAMILY:  Melifagidae

Endemic to NZ with one closely related sub-species.   Fully protected.   Found throughout NZ up to 1000mts.    Mainly in native forest remnants, gardens and parks.   Rare in pure beech forest.   The Tui is slightly larger than the Blackbird, with a prominent white wing patch and throat tuft (this white tuft giving the bird the name 'Parson Bird' by NZ pioneers).  Known for its beautiful bell-like call similar to the Bellbird, but with harsher tone and croaks and gurgles.   Their wings make a loud whirring sound when in flight.   Feeds on berries, nectar, fruit and insects.    The forehead is often stained with pollen, especially when feeding on flax flowers.   Breeding is from October to January, with possibly 2 broods being reared.   The nest is a bulky structure of twigs and sticks lined with fine grass, feathers and moss.   The eggs, 3-4, are pinkish-white with red-brown spots and blotches densest at the larger end.   .arrow_yellow_1.gif


 BROWN KIWI/Kiwi    Apteryx australis

FAMILY:  Apterygidae

The Kiwi is endemic to NZ and is fully protected.   There are 3 sub- species, North Island [shown in plate] South Island and Stewart Island.   Nth. Island is darkest with dark legs.   Sth. Island is lighter with pale flesh coloured legs.

Found throughout NZ in native bush, second growth and scrubland, but rarer in the Sth. Island and is not seen west of the main divide.  Also becoming scarce in the North Island.    Kiwi feed at night on worms, insects, seeds and berries, most located by smell.   They stay in burrows underground or beneath trees during the day.   Their call is an often repeated shrill whistle 'ki-weee' in the male, hoarse and lower pitched in the female.   Kiwi breed throughout the year especially July to February.   They nest in hollow logs, in holes in banks and under tree roots.   The eggs, 1-2, are smooth ivory white or greenish-white, and very large for the size of the bird.   The male only incubates and cares for the young. Unlike most birds, Kiwi have their nostrils placed at the tip of their long bill.

NOTE:   The LITTLE SPOTTED KIWI - [Apteryx oweni] and GREAT SPOTTED KIWI [Apteryx haasti] are found in the South Island mainly west of the main divide.   They are grey, banded and mottled with brownish-black.   They are respectively the smallest and largest of the Kiwis.



  • SHINING CUCKOO/Pupiwharauroa
  • Chalcites lucidus      FAMILY:  Cuculidae
  • Found throughout NZ  up to 1200mts. these birds are more often heard than seen.  Voice is a musical series of double notes with a downward slur at the end of the call.   They are native and migratory, only breeding in NZ.   Fully protected.   They arrive in August, migrating north in March to the Solomon Islands and Bismark Archipelago.   They feed on insects and caterpillars.   Breeding occurs October to January.   They lay in the nest of mainly Grey Warbler, but also Fantail, Tomtit and Waxeye.   1 egg is laid per host and is greenish or bluish-white to olive-brown.   The chick ejects any eggs or chicks of the host.   Number of eggs laid per season is unknown.
  • LONG-TAILED CUCKOO/Koekoea        Eudynamis taitensis   FAMILY: Cuculidae
  • Native and migratory, only breeding in NZ.   Fully protected.
  • Voice is a long harsh piercing screech.   They are found throughout NZ , arriving in September to October, and migrating north in February to South-west Pacific Islands.   They feed on insects, young birds, lizards and eggs.   Breeding is from November to December and 1 egg is laid in the nest of mainly Whitehead and Brown Creeper, also Yellowhead, Tomtit, Robin and Waxeye.   The egg is creamy-white spotted and blotched all over with purplish-brown and grey.  The eggs and chicks of the host are ejected as with the Shining Cuckoo.
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  • WEKA

 WEKA    Gallirallus australis    FAMILY: Rallidae

Endemic to NZ with 4 closely related sub-species, Nth Island; Western; Buff and Stewart Island.   North Island and Western are depicted.   Fully protected except on Chatham Islands.   The Weka is an inquisitive bird, flightless, with a measured walk, flicking tail and rapid run.   Nth Island- restricted to Gisborne, Poverty Bay, but introduced elsewhere.   Western Weka are found in the Sth Island mainly west of the main  divide.   Buff Weka were previously in Canterbury but now restricted to the Chatham Islands.   Stewart Island Weka are present on Stewart Island and other southern  islands where they were introduced by fishermen, whalers, sealers and muttonbirders.   They feed on a variety of vegetable and animal matter, insects, worms, crustacea, rats and mice, fruit, eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds.   Breeding is usually from September to April, but sometimes 3-4 times per year.   The nest is a shallow cup of woven grass under scrub, tussock, raupo.   The eggs, 3-6, are creamy-pink with scattered mauve blotches.     



  • WHITEHEAD/Popokatea     Mohoua albicilla
  • FAMILY:  Muscicapidae
  • The Whitehead is endemic to NZ and is fully protected.   Except for the breeding season these little birds can be seen and heard in noisy flocks in the forest canopy.   They feed on insects, seeds and soft small fruits. Voice is a hard single 'zit'.  Found in the North Island and associated offshore islands in native bush and exotic forests.   Breeding is from October to Februar and the bulky, cup-shaped nest is made of twigs, rootlets, grass and bark bound together with spiders' web, and lined with bark,  in the canopy of shrubs or small trees.   The eggs, 2-4, are translucent white, variably spotted with reddish-brown or brown.   Whitehead are often the host of the Long-tailed Cuckoo.
  • arrow_yellow_2.gif

 YELLOWHEAD/ Mohua                Mohoua ochrocephaia

FAMILY:  Muscicapidae

The Yellowhead is endemic to NZ and fully protected.   They are locally common in South Island beech forest, and frequent dense native bush canopy, feeding on insects in foliage and debris collected in tree forks and bark.   Occasionally they will feed on the ground.   Breeding is from November to December.   The nest is  cup-shaped and made of moss, rootlets and spiders' web and lined with fine grasses, in holes in dead trees.  The eggs, 3-4, are pinkish-white and evenly blotched with reddish-brown.   The female only incubates and they are sometimes host to the Long-tailed Cuckoo.



RED-CROWNED PARAKEET/Kakariki     Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae

FAMILY:  Platycercidae

Native, also found in New Caledonia.   There are several closely associated sub-species in the NZ region.   Fully protected.    These are a small parrot, about the size of a Blackbird, with rapid wing beat, swift straight flight and a chattering call mainly when in flight.  Found throughout NZ in large areas of native bush, but more plentiful on outlying islands.   They feed on a wide variety of vegetable matter, from fruits and seeds to leaves and buds.   They are commonly held in aviaries under permit.   Breeding is from October to March, and the eggs, 4-9, white, are deposited in hollow trees and rock crevises.

YELLOW-FRONTED PARAKEET/Kakariki          Cyanoramphus auriceps

FAMILY: Platycercidae

Endemic with one other closely related sub-species, the Orange Fronted Parakeet.   Smaller than the Red-Crowned Parakeet and more plentiful and widespread on the mainland.   Food and nesting is similar to the Red-Crowned.   Breeding is from  August to April and the female only incubates the eggs.   Also commonly held in aviaries under permit.



GREY WARBLER/ Riroriro       Gerydone igata    FAMILY: Muscicapidae

Endemic with closely related species in the Chatham Islands.   Fully protected.   Small bird with conspicuous white tip to tail when in flight.   Warblers are more commonly heard than seen, their song being a penetrating high melodious rising and falling trill.   They are very active birds and will sometimes hover near foliage when searching for food.   Common throughout NZ but absent from open country and high alpine areas.   Their food consists of spiders, insects and larvae.   Breeding is from August to December with usually two clutches.   The nest is a hanging, pear-shaped structure with a small side entrance, constructed of moss, grass and spiders' web, lined thickly with feathers.   The eggs, 3-5, are pinky-white, dotted all over with brown.   The Warbler is a favourite host of the Shining Cuckoo, who lays its egg with the second clutch.   The Warbler then incubates and raises the chick.



FERNBIRD / Matata     Bowdleria punctata    FAMILY:  Muscicapidae

Endemic to NZ with 6 sub-species.   Fully protected.   Found throughout NZ but becoming localised through loss of habitat, which includes swamps, wetlands, scrubland and bracken.   Not alpine.   Fernbirds feed on insects.   Breeding is from September to February and the nest is neatly woven of grasses and rushes, with a deep cup lined with feathers.   It is well hidden a few centimetres from the ground or above stagnant water.   The eggs, 2-3, are pinkish-white covered in brown dots which are concentrated at the larger end.


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Copyright(c) 2006 Janet Marshall. All rights reserved.


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