Saturday, 12 February 2011

New Zealand bellbird

Anthornis melanura

Photo by Richard Thomas (The Guardian)

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae

This species is endemic to New Zealand, being found throughout the main islands of the country with the exception of the extreme north of the North Island, and also in several offshore islands and the Auckland Islands.

New Zealand bellbirds are 20 cm long. Males weigh 34 g while females weigh just 26 g.

Their natural habitat are the indigenous temperate forests of New Zealand. They can also be found in temperate scrubland, rural gardens and plantations and even within urban areas.

They mostly eat nectar, honeydew and fruits. They also take insects to some extent.

The New Zealand bellbird breed in September-December. The nest is mostly built by the female, consisting of a loose bag of twigs and coarse grasses, lined with fine grasses, feathers and leaves. The nest is either placed on a dense forest canopy or on a rock face concealed by dense vegetation. The female lays 2-4 pinkish-white eggs with red-brown blotches, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. Only the female broods the nestlings, by their are fed by both parents. The chicks fledge 16-20 days after hatching but continue to be fed by the parents for at least 7 more days.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size is yet to be determined, this species as a relatively large breeding range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and the effects of introduced mammals, namely cats, stoats, weasels, ferrets and rats, which depredate their eggs, and introduced wasps which compete for food. Still, this species is not considered threatened at present.

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