Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Nests are built with leaves, finely shredded grass and feathers, with feathers being laid most thickly on the bottom of the nest, creating a comfortable cushion for the chicks. The reproductive biology of this bird is poorly understood, but pairs are known to breed between October and February, and both parents are thought to care for and feed the growing chicks (2). The South Island wren is primarily insectivorous, feeding on creatures such as moths, grasshoppers, spiders and worms, but will also occasionally take fruits and seeds from alpine vegetation (2) (3).
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Description

The South Island wren is a small but robust alpine bird with a very short tail, rounded wings, and long legs and toes (2) (3). While the male's plumage is a dull green colour above, grey-brown below and yellow on the flanks, the female is more olive-brown in colour. This charming bird has an unusual habit of vigorously bobbing up and down (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

Xenicus gilviventris is endemic to New Zealand. Once found in the North Island prior to European settlement, it is now restricted to the South Island, where it ranges from north-west Nelson, down through Westland and the Southern Alps, to Fiordland (Heather and Robertson 1997). It was described as locally common (Heather and Robertson 1997), but its distribution is fragmented, and a recent analysis of sightings indicates that about 20% of known localities have had no sightings in the past 20 years (P. Gaze per R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005). Its population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 individuals (R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005). Its range continues to decline (Michelsen-Heath and Gaze in press) and a 40% decline in abundance over a 20-year period occurred in the Murchison mountains (Willians 2007).

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Range

High mts. of South I. (New Zealand).

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Range

As its common name implies, the South Island wren is endemic to the South Island of New Zealand, although it was formerly also found in the North Island before European colonisation. Fragmented populations now remain only in the South Island, from north-west Nelson, down through Westland and the Southern Alps, to Fiordland (3).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Populations are confined to alpine and subalpine habitat, on mountain ranges and in valleys above the timberline, between c.920 m and 2,900 m (mostly 1,200 to 2,400 m). It inhabits rocky slopes, including talus, open scree, glacial moraine and rocky outcrops, usually vegetated with alpine and subalpine low shrublands. It nests among loose rock or debris, on bluffs or rocky ledges, always close to vegetation. It is insectivorous, but will occasionally take fruits and seeds from alpine vegetation (Higgins et al. 2001). Flight is relatively weak, although birds still range over extensive areas of steep mountain terrain (R. Hay in litt. 1999).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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The South Island wren is the only 'true' alpine bird in New Zealand, both living and breeding in alpine and subalpine habitat all year round (3) (4). This species inhabits the rocky slopes of mountains and valleys above the timberline, between 920 m and 2,900 m above sea level, which are usually vegetated only with alpine and subalpine low shrublands. Nests are built among loose rock or debris, or on rocky ledges, always close to vegetation (3).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C1+2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Gaze, P., Hay, R. & Hitchmough, R.

Justification
This species has a small and fragmented population which is estimated to be undergoing a decline owing to heavy nest predation. It is therefore considered Vulnerable.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals (R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat to this species is predation by introduced mammals, house mice Mus musculus and stoats Mustela erminea, particularly in years when M. erminea populations are high in response to mouse plagues (R. Hay in litt. 1999). The only study on nesting in this species showed significant levels of egg and chick loss to mice and stoat (Michelsen-Heath 1989).

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Like so many of New Zealand's native birds, the small and fragmented population of South Island wrens is suffering from nest predation by introduced mammals, and is consequently thought to be under serious decline. A study of the species showed significant levels of egg and chick loss to house mice (Mus musculus) and stoats (Mustela erminea). This small bird is particularly vulnerable in years of high stoat numbers due to periodic mouse plagues, which provide additional food for stoats, allowing their populations to multiply (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
In January 2005, the Department of Conservation relocated 24 individuals from the Murchison Mountains to predator-free Anchor Island in Dusky Sound. Monitoring of this translocated population has followed (Weston 2006), and a translocation to Secretary Island was planned for 2008.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to verify population estimates and identify key sites for this species. Carry out predator control programmes at key breeding sites, especially during plague years. Continue the programme of translocation, including considering translocations to Secretary Island in Doubtful Sound.

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Conservation

In January 2005, the New Zealand Department of Conservation relocated 24 South Island wrens from the Murchison Mountains to predator-free Anchor Island in Dusky Sound, in an attempt to help ensure the species' survival. So far the results have been positive, and this additional, relatively secure population serves as a safety measure for the species, should the population on the mainland suffer further declines or even become extinct. Should the relocation of these birds prove to be successful in the long term, this programme may be extended to include relocations to Secretary Island in Doubtful Sound, providing the stoat control scheme planned for the island in 2005 has been successfully completed (4).
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Wikipedia

New Zealand Rockwren

The New Zealand Rockwren (Xenicus gilviventris), or Rock Wren, or Pīwauwau in (Māori, is a small New Zealand wren (family Acanthisittidae) endemic to the South Island of New Zealand. It is sometimes known as the South Island Wren, a name used to separate it from the unrelated Rock Wren of North America. While the species is currently restricted to alpine areas of the South Island, fossil evidence indicates it was once present in the North Island as well. It is the rarer of the two surviving species of New Zealand wrens and is threatened by introduced mammals.

The Rockwren is the only surviving species in the genus Xenicus, and is thought to have been closely related to the formerly more widespread Bushwren. Like the Bushwren and the Rifleman it is a poor flier, rarely flying more than two metres off the ground or for distances or more than 30 m. It is highly terrestrial, feeding in low scrub and open scree and rockfalls in alpine areas.

Conservation[edit]

A University of Otago study of over 2,000 sightings between 1912 and 2005 showed that areas the wren inhabited had declined by 24% since 1984.[2]

In 2008, nine rock wren were translocated to Secretary Island, a predator free island in Fiordland. Over the following two years a total of 40 rock wren were transferred onto the island.[3] In 2010, a survey located twelve unbanded rock wren on Secretary Island, indicating they had started breeding successfully.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Xenicus gilviventris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rock wren sightings sought as figures fall". Otago Daily Times. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Secretary Island Translocation". faunarecovery.org.nz. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand Rock wren thriving on new sanctuary". Wildlife Extra. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 

References[edit]

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