The Stitchbird (Hihi in Mori) is a mid-sized passerine (slightly larger than a Yellowhammer and larger than a House Sparrow). When the male is in breeding plumage, its front half is jet black, with a white spot behind the eye. This spot is a tuft of erectile feathers that are used during mating displays. The black is bordered by a yellow fringe along the flanks and coverts. The underside is a brownish grey. The female is duller, brown rather than black and devoid of an erectile tuft. The yellow is absent too, but the female has an obvious white wing bar.
The Stitchbird inhabits mature forest where hollow trees can be found. Currently; it is only found in predator-free offshore islands dotted around the New Zealand North Island coast, especially Little Barrier Island (where the last natural population survives) and Tiritiri-Matangi. There have been reintroductions in Kapiti Island, and on the mainland in Auckland (Ark in the Park) and Wellington (Zealandia).
The Stichbird is a discrete bird, even though it calls often. Living in the darkest part of the forest, it can be had to observe. On Tiritiri-Matangi, the individuals where not shy at all, coming to feed within a meter of observers. A distinctive behaviour is to often raise its tail.
The species is quite eclectic as it will feed on insects, nectar or fruit.
The breeding season is from September to April. The nest is built in a cavity in a hollow tree. It is usually a thick bowl shaped nest made of fine twigs and lined with grass. A clutch has 3 to 5 eggs.
Previously widespread in the forest of the North Island, the Stitchbird, an endemic species, only numbers 2000 or so individuals. Most are on Little Barrier Island, but reintroduced population now exist on predator-free island to increase the resilience of the species and to ensure survival should Little Barrier become compromised. However, the introduced populations are not viable yet and need further reintroductions to maintain themselves. The life expectancy appears to be shorter than for those individuals in Little Barrier Island, maybe because the islands are too small. Supplementary feeding is carried out but this does not seem sufficient and some more reintroductions on other sites might be necessary. The species is considered Vulnerable by BirdLife International.