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Wildlife of New Zealand

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Tieke / North Island Saddleback (Philesturnus rufuaster - Callaeidae: New Zealand Wattlebirds) Wellington, NZ

The Tieke / North Island Saddleback is endemic to the North Island of New Zealand, south Island birds are now regarded as belonging to a separate species. European settlement and the introduction of cats, rats or mustelids eliminated this bird from mainland North Island. By the 1950's it was down to one population on one small off-shore island. South Island birds suffered a similar fate. Birds were sucessfully transfered by the NZ Government to other islands that were or were made predator free, eg Tiri Tiri Martangi (see birds there at The birds here were filmed at Zeelandia reserve in Wellington - a mainland fenced sanctuary kept free of predators, however birds are free to leave. Given a break this bird seems to thrive. Time spent on the ground looking for food, seen here, probably makes it very vulnerable to predation by mammals. A characterful bird and one of my all time favourates and it is wonderful, in spite of everything, it is still around!



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