New Zealand Rockwren
Xenicus gilviventris - Xénique des rochers
- Size: 9 cm
- Wingspan: -
The New Zealand Rock Wren is a small passerine bird that appears to have no tail at first sight. The male has a green back, brown underparts and yellowish flanks. Female are more olive-brown coloured. The light-coloured legs and toes are quite long for a bird of this size. The wings a short and rounded. Both sexes have a long creamy-white supercilium. The bill is black and thin.
Subspecific information monotypic species
- Xénique des rochers,
- Acantisita roquero,
- déli-szigeti álfakusz,
- Scricciolo di South Island,
- striežik skalný,
- pokřovník alpínský,
- acantisita roquera,
- łazik skalny,
- Скалистый новозеландский крапивник,
The Rock Wren is endemic to the mountains of New Zealand's South Island. It is the only New Zealand bird that occurs all year round in alpine and subalpine areas where it is found in scrub and screes between 900 meters and 3,000 meters.
Behaviour character trait
Rock Wrens fly little and only over short distances, preferring to hop and run. Individuals often perch on a rock where they bob up and down in rapid succession. While not shy, they are difficult to observe due to their quick movement and their tendency to spend long minutes under vegetation or scree.
Quick and brief, with fast beating wings.
Rock Wrens are insectivores, feeding mainly on caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders and larvae. They do eat small fruit and seeds on occasion.
Breeding is still poorly studied. Nests are built amongst stones, in crevasses on rocky ledges. The nest is made of leaves and grasses and lined with hundreds of feathers that protect the eggs and chicks from the low alpine or subalpine temperatures. Breeding occurs in the austral spring and summer, between December and February. Both parents feed the chicks.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The New Zealand Rock Wren is considered Vulnerable by BirdLife International. The current population is estimated to have less than 10,000 individuals. Their main predators the house mouse Mus musculus and stoat Mustela herminea, introduced by Europeans, which destroys many broods. Rock Wrens where found in the North Island, but disappeared before European settlement. The distribution in the South Island has fragmented. In 2005, 24 birds were transferred to Anchor Island after predators had been extirpated.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
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published: 22-03-2008 - Updated: 22-03-2008
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