Skip to content

Native Birds of the Waikato

Fantail/Pīwakawaka (Rhipidura fuliginosa)

Tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)

Tūī are remarkable native birds known for their striking plumage and unique vocal abilities. They have a glossy bluish-black coat with a tuft of white feathers at their throat, which is called a “poi.”

Tūī are highly territorial and can often be seen defending their feeding territories, especially when there are abundant nectar sources available. They have a varied diet that includes nectar, fruits, insects, and even the occasional sip of water from flowers. Tūī play a crucial role in pollination as they feed on nectar and transfer pollen between flowers, aiding in the reproduction of native plants.

Tūī breeding season typically occurs during the spring and summer months when food sources are abundant. Male tūī engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract females. They perform acrobatic flights, showcasing their glossy black plumage, white throat tufts, and unique white feathery necklaces. Males also produce a range of distinctive calls and songs, demonstrating their vocal prowess.

Conservation Status: Tūī populations are generally stable and not considered to be threatened. However, habitat loss and the impact of introduced predators remain ongoing concerns for their long-term conservation.

Kererū (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)

Kererū, also known as New Zealand wood pigeons or kukupa, are an iconic species in New Zealand’s forests and play a vital role in maintaining the health of native ecosystems. They are large and gentle birds with a distinctive appearance. They have iridescent green and white plumage, a white chest band, and a large rounded body.

Kererū are frugivores, primarily feeding on native fruits such as karaka, tawa, and kahikatea, which they help disperse by consuming and excreting the seeds. They are also known to drink water by tilting their head backward, allowing the water to flow into their throats.

Grey warbler/riorio (Gerygone igata)

Grey warblers, or riroriro, are small insectivorous birds that inhabit forests, scrublands, and gardens throughout the Waikato region. These tiny birds bring life to the forest with their beautiful songs and energetic foraging behaviour. They have soft grey plumage and a distinctive voice, with their melodious songs consisting of a rapid series of high-pitched notes.

Grey warblers build intricate nests, often woven with spider webs, in the forks of trees or shrubs. They have an insect-dominated diet, foraging actively in foliage to capture small insects and spiders.

The female grey warbler lays a clutch of two to five eggs, which are pale pinkish or creamy white with reddish-brown spots. Incubation duties are primarily performed by the female, although the male may occasionally assist. Incubation lasts for approximately 16 to 20 days.

After hatching, both parents take part in feeding and caring for the chicks. They gather small insects, spiders, and other arthropods to provide a protein-rich diet. The parents make frequent foraging trips to ensure the growing chicks receive enough food for healthy development.

Grey warblers often engage in cooperative breeding, where offspring from previous broods may assist their parents in raising new chicks. This behavior, known as “helpers at the nest,” increases the chances of successful breeding and enhances the survival of subsequent generations.

Conservation Status: Grey warblers are classified as not threatened, as they have stable populations and a broad distribution across New Zealand, including the Waikato region.

Bellbird/korimako (Anthornis melanura)

Bellbirds, or korimako, are renowned for their enchanting songs, which can carry long distances through the forest. They have olive-green plumage, often with a metallic sheen, and males have distinctive white feathers on their throat. With their distinct bell-like calls and beautiful plumage, bellbirds add charm to the forested landscapes of the Waikato.

Bellbirds are nectar feeders and play a vital role in pollinating native plants. They also feed on insects, fruit and honeydew. Chicks are almost exclusively fed insects.

Bellbird breeding typically occurs during the spring and summer months when food sources are plentiful. Males play a significant role in attracting mates through their captivating songs. Their melodious and far-carrying calls echo through the forests, acting as a vocal advertisement of their presence and fitness.

Once a male bellbird establishes a territory, he defends it vigorously, chasing away rival males and vocalizing to assert his dominance. This territorial behavior is essential for securing a breeding mate. Females are attracted to males with the most impressive songs and territories. Once a female selects a mate, they engage in courtship displays, including aerial chases and mutual preening, strengthening their bond.

Conservation Status: Bellbirds are not currently considered to be threatened. However, habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals are ongoing challenges that require continued conservation efforts.

Kākā (Nestor meridionalis)

Conservation Status: Kākā are currently classified as at risk – recovering due to successful conservation efforts in recent decades to support this species. Their current population is likely less than 10,000 birds nationally.

Morepork/ruru (Ninox novaeseelandiae)

The morepork, also known as ruru or New Zealand owl, is a nocturnal bird species with a distinctive call that sounds like its name “morepork.” Their haunting hoots and calls echo through the night, serving as a means of communication and bonding.

They have brownish plumage with speckles, providing excellent camouflage in the forested areas where they reside.

Ruru are carnivorous, feeding on a variety of prey including insects, small mammals, birds, and even other owls.

They are monogamous birds, forming long-term pair bonds.The courtship period of moreporks involves vocalisations and duets between the male and female. Once a pair has formed, they establish a nesting territory together. Moreporks do not build nests but rather utilise existing tree cavities, holes in trunks, or even hollows in the ground as nesting sites. These natural cavities provide a secure and sheltered space for incubation and raising chicks.

Conservation status: Ruru are currently classified as not threatened. They are widespread throughout New Zealand, including the Waikato.

Shining cuckoo/pīpīwharauroa (Chrysococcyx lucidus)

The shining cuckoo or pipwharauroa, is a migratory bird that arrives in Waikato, and other parts of Aotearoa, in springtime.

They have glossy green plumage, a slender body, and a long tail.

Shining cuckoos are brood parasites, meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, such as grey warblers. The host birds unknowingly raise the cuckoo chicks.

Shining cuckoos feed on insects, including poisonous insects such as hairy caterpillars, which other bird species avoid.

Conservation status: Shining cuckoos are not considered to be threatened. However, their migratory nature and dependence on suitable breeding and foraging habitats highlight the importance of conserving diverse ecosystems for their survival.

North Island kōkako (Callaeas wilsoni)

The North Island kōkako is a threatened species with increasing numbers thanks to some major efforts from the Department of Conservation and community groups such as Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, and Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust.

NI kōkako are a unique and captivating bird. They have bluish-grey plumage, a vibrant blue wattle (fleshy lobe) extending from their cheeks to their throat, and a black facial mask. Kokako are known for their haunting and melodious songs, which echo through the forest canopy.

Kōkako are primarily found in mature mixed podocarp-tawa forests. They are omnivores, feeding on a diverse diet that includes leaves, fruits, flowers, nectar, and invertebrates.

North Island tomtit/miromiro (Petroica macrocephala toitoi)

NI tomtits are small birds found in established forests around Waikato and the North Island. They are known for their friendly and curious nature, and are a delight to encounter in the wild.

Tomtits have a distinct black and white plumage, with males sporting a bold white forehead patch.

They have a varied diet that includes insects, spiders, and small fruits. They are agile and active birds, often seen flitting between branches and catching insects on the wing.

Tomtit breeding generally takes place during the spring and summer, coinciding with the availability of food resources. They are monogamous birds, forming pair bonds that can last multiple breeding seasons. Once a pair has formed, they establish a breeding territory together. Both male and female tomtits participate in territorial defense, vigorously chasing away intruders and vocalizing to assert their presence.

The female tomtit constructs the nest, which is typically a cup-shaped structure made of moss, bark, leaves, and other plant materials. Nests are commonly built in cavities, such as tree hollows or crevices in rocks, providing protection and shelter for the eggs and chicks. However, this can be detrimental as they have no escape route when predators find their nests.

Conservation status: Tomtits are not currently considered to be threatened due to stable populations found across the North Island.

Feel free to get in touch to talk to us about how we can help you with your ecological restoration and biodiversity management needs.