Stitchbird

Stitchbird
Enlarge picture
Female in typical 'tail cocked' stance.

Female in typical 'tail cocked' stance.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:see text
Genus:Notiomystis
Richmond, 1908
Species:N. cincta
Binomial name
Notiomystis cincta
(Du Bus de Gisignies, 1839)


The Stitchbird, or Hihi (Notiomystis cincta) is a rare bird endemic to New Zealand. It has become extinct on the mainland and survives only on offshore refuges, though a small population was established in Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (near Wellington). Its evolutionary relationships have long puzzled ornithologists.

Description

The Stitchbird is a small honeyeater-like bird with a dark velvety cap and white ear-tufts. Males have a yellow band across the chest separating the black head from the rest of the body, which is grey. Females and juveniles are duller than males, lacking the black head and yellow chest band. The bill is rather thin and somewhat curved, and the tongue is long with a brush at the end for collecting nectar. Stitchbirds are very active and call frequently. Their most common call, a tzit tzit sound, is believed to be the source of their common name, as Buller noted that it "has a fanciful resemblance to the word stitch". They also have a high-pitched whistle and an alarm call which is a nasal pek like a bellbird. Males give a piercing three-note whistle (often heard in spring) and a variety of other calls not given by the female.

They nest in holes high up in old trees, and are the only bird species that mates face to face, apparently in preference to the usual position (Anderson, 1993).

Food

Research has suggested that they face interspecific competition from the Tui and New Zealand Bellbird, and will feed from lower-quality food sources when these species are present. The Stitchbird rarely lands on the ground and seldom visits flowers on the large canopy trees favoured by the tui and bellbird (this may simply be because of the competition from the more aggressive, larger birds).

Their main food is nectar, but the Stitchbird'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 haekaro, matata, puriri, rata and toropapa. Preferred fruits include Coprosma species, five finger, pate, tree fuschia, and raukawa.

The Stitchbird also supplements its diet with small insects.

Range and conservation

The Stitchbird was relatively common early in the European colonisation of New Zealand, and began to decline relatively quickly afterwards, being extinct on the mainland and many offshore islands by 1885. The exact cause of the decline is unknown, but is thought to be pressure from introduced species, especially Black Rats, and introduced avian diseases. A small population survived on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island, and this population persisted until the 1980s when the New Zealand Wildlife Service (now Department of Conservation) translocated individuals to create separate populations. They were moved to other islands in New Zealand's network of offshore reserves which have been cleared of introduced species and protect many other rare species including the Kakapo and Takahe.

Currently the world population is estimated to be between 500 and 1000 adult birds, surviving on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), Kapiti Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua, and in the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Only the Hauturu/Little Barrier Island population is currently thought to be stable, however. This species is classified as It is currently listed as Vulnerable (D1+D2) by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2004). This classification means that there are less than 1000 mature birds, and that the species is found in those 5 locations only. Should the number of self-supporting populations increase and the species flourish, it would likely be downgraded to Conservation Dependent.

Reintroduction to mainland

In October 2005, three Stitchbird chicks were hatched at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary near Wellington, the first time for more than 120 years that a Stitchbird chick has been born on mainland New Zealand. The hatchings were described as a significant conservation milestone by sanctuary staff who were hoping further chicks would be born there (KWS 2005).

After more than a century of absence, 60 adult birds from the Tiritiri Matangi population are being released in Cascade Kauri Park, Waitakere Ranges, in (local) Autumn, 2007. This marks the start of the attempt to establish a robust hihi population not in need of intensive conservation action. Birds are initially being supplied with food and nesting facilities, and predators are being controlled, but it is hoped that the birds will soon be able to fend for their own (BLI 2007).

Taxonomy

After a period of doubt, the Stitchbird was tentatively placed in the Meliphagidae family. New research (Ewen et al., 2006) suggests that it is best placed in its own monotypic family, the closest relatives of which are the Callaeidae. If this is confirmed, the new family will receive a name according to ICZN rules.

References

1. ^ BirdLife International (BLI) (2004). Notiomystis cincta. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is vulnerable

External links

conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species continuing to survive either in the present day or the future. Many factors are taken into account when assessing the conservation status of a species: not simply the number remaining, but the
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vulnerable species is a species which is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve. The following is a very small, non-representative fraction of the 8565 species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
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IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data List), created in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
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Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. Scientific classification also can be called scientific taxonomy, but should be distinguished from folk taxonomy, which lacks scientific basis.
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Chordata
Bateson, 1885

Typical Classes

See below

Chordates (phylum Chordata) are a group of animals that includes the vertebrates, together with several closely related invertebrates.
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Aves
Linnaeus, 1758

Orders

About two dozen - see section below

Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals.
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Passeriformes
Linnaeus, 1758

Suborders
  • Acanthisitti
  • Tyranni
  • Passeri


A passerine is a bird of the giant order Passeriformes. More than half of all species of bird are passerines.
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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1870s  1880s  1890s  - 1900s -  1910s  1920s  1930s
1905 1906 1907 - 1908 - 1909 1910 1911

Year 1908 (MCMVIII
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binomial nomenclature is the formal system of naming species. The system is also called binominal nomenclature (particularly in zoological circles), binary nomenclature (particularly in botanical circles), or the binomial classification system.
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Bernard Aimé Léonard du Bus de Gisignies (Sint-Joost-ten-Node, June 21, 1808 - Bad Ems, Germany, July 6, 1874) was a Belgian politician, ornithologist and paleontologist. He was the second son of Leonard Pierre Joseph du Bus de Gisignies.
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18th century - 19th century - 20th century
1800s  1810s  1820s  - 1830s -  1840s  1850s  1860s
1836 1837 1838 - 1839 - 1840 1841 1842

:
Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
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Aves
Linnaeus, 1758

Orders

About two dozen - see section below

Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals.
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endemic, it is unique to its own place or region; it is found only there, and not found naturally anywhere else. The place must be a discrete geographical unit, often an island or island group, but sometimes a country, habitat type, or other defined area or zone.
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Anthem
"God Defend New Zealand"
"God Save the Queen" 1


Capital Wellington

Largest city Auckland
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Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected natural area in Wellington, New Zealand, where the bio-diversity of 252 ha (just under a square mile) of forest is being restored. The sanctuary covers an area that was previously used as the water catchment area for Wellington, between
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Wellington (unofficially Te Whanganui-a-Tara[1] or Poneke[2]
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Ornithology (from Greek: ορνισ, ornis, "bird"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of birds.
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Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by plants. It is produced either by the flowers, in which it attracts pollinating animals or by or extrafloral nectaries, which provide a nutrient source to animal mutualists providing anti-herbivore protection.
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Sir Walter Lawry Buller (October 9, 1838 - July 19, 1906) was a New Zealand lawyer, naturalist and ornithologist. He was the son of man that helped convert the people of Tonga into Methodists.
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Anthornis
Gray, 1840

Species: A. melanura

Binomial name
Anthornis melanura
(Sparrman, 1786)

The New Zealand Bellbird (
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Interspecific competition, in ecology, is a form of competition in which individuals of different species vie for the same resource in an ecosystem (e.g. food or living space).
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Prosthemadera
Gray, 1840

Species: P. novaeseelandiae

Binomial name
Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
(Gmelin, 1788)

The Tui (
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Anthornis
Gray, 1840

Species: A. melanura

Binomial name
Anthornis melanura
(Sparrman, 1786)

The New Zealand Bellbird (
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V. lucens

Binomial name
Vitex lucens
Kirk

Puriri (Vitex lucens) is an evergreen tree endemic to New Zealand.
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M. robusta

Binomial name
Metrosideros robusta
A.Cunn.

Northern rātā (Metrosideros robusta), is a huge forest tree endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 25 m.
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Coprosma
J.R.Forster & G.Forster

Species

Coprosma acerosa
Coprosma acutifolia
Coprosma antipoda
Coprosma arborea
Coprosma areolata
Coprosma astonii
Coprosma australis
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P. arboreus

Binomial name
Pseudopanax arboreus
(Murray) Philipson

Pseudopanax arboreus or Five Finger
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S. digitata

Binomial name
Schefflera digitata
J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.

Schefflera digitata, Pate or Seven-finger
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