T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta) hihi

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Notiomystidae
Genus: Notiomystis
Species: N. cincta
Binomial name: Notiomystis cincta
Common name: Stitchbird, hihi

Notiomystis cincta is a medium-sized forest species and is one of New Zealand’s rarest birds and endemic to the North Island and adjacent offshore islands of New Zealand. It conservation status is classed as 'Nationally Vulnerable'. Currently the world population is estimated to be between 500 and 2000 adult birds, surviving on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), Kapiti Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua, Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (Zealandia) and the Cascade Kauri Park in the Waitakere Ranges.
Their main food is nectar, but Notiomystis cincta's diet covers over twenty species of native flowers and thirty species of fruit and many species of introduced plants. Important natural nectar sources are Pittosporum umbellatum (Haekaro), Rhabdothamnus solandri (Matata), Vitex lucens (Puriri), Metrosideros spp.(Rata) and Alseuosmia macrophylla (Toropapa). Preferred fruits include Coprosma species, Pseudopanax arboreus (Five finger), Schefflera digitata (Pate), Fuchsia excorticata (Tree fuchsia) and Raukaua edgerleyi (raukawa). It also supplements its diet with small insects.
Males have white tufts behind the eyes, a black head, upper breast and back, there is a golden yellow band across breast and wings, rest of underparts are a greyish-brown. Males are 18 cm in length and weigh 40 g.
Female have a more subdued colouring and look quite different to the male birds. Females are a greyish brown with a white wing bar and lack the black head and yellow chest band of the males. Females weigh 30 g.
The birds bill is rather thin and curves downwards. The tongue is long with a brush at the end for collecting nectar. Thin whiskers project out and slightly forward from the base of the bill.
The Notiomystis cincta nests in holes high up in old trees. They return year after the year to the same nesting hole. Notiomystis cincta are the only bird species that mates face to face, in comparison to the more conventional copulation style for birds where the male mounts the female's back. Females incubate alone, but males assist with chick rearing.

Habitat loss and the introduction of mammalian predators such as cats and rats and specimen collection probably contributed to the decline of hihi on the mainland. They also appear to be especially prone to the effects of diseases, which may have been introduced to New Zealand with domestic birds. The avian diseases found to have affected the wild hihi survival are Aspergillosis, a fungal infection of the respiratory tract, and Coccidiosis, an intestinal parasite.

Watch videos of hihi:  http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/CustomSummary.aspx?id=33595&epslanguage=en

Male bird


Female bird.
  

This intricate nest is lined with soft fern scale and is built entirely by the female bird. A big job by a 30 g bird. The females lays 1 egg a day till there are 3- 5 eggs are in the nest. When the last egg is laid she will incubate them for 15 days. During this time she will sit on the nest for 15-30 minutes then leave for about 5 minutes to feed. Only the female incubate.
 

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