IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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Biology

The stitchbird mostly forms socially monogamous breeding pairs, but occasionally forms larger breeding groups, where up to two males and two females may breed in the same nest or territory. These breeding bonds are only social as there is frequent promiscuous behaviour and high levels of extra-pair parentage (9). The nest, situated within the tree hole, is a platform of sticks, with a cup constructed from tree-fern rhizomes placed on top and lined with tree-fern scales and feathers (3). The stitchbird has the unusual distinction of being the only bird known to occasionally mate face to face (7). A clutch of three to five eggs are laid between September and March, which the female then incubates for around 15 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge after about 30 days (3). Nectar is one of the major food types utilised by the stitchbird, and they have a long tongue, divided at the tip and frayed at the edges like a brush that allows them to reach deep into flowers (7). They also eat a wide variety of fruit and pick invertebrates from tree leaves and bark (3). Stitchbirds face strong competition for this food from other species, (the tui and the bellbird), which may prevent the stitchbird from feeding on many kinds of nectar and fruit. When these birds are present the stitchbirds tend to feed on less desirable nectar lower down in the canopy (5). Stitchbirds are strong fliers, known to travel extensively for food, and may travel up to several kilometres in a day between good feeding sites, without leaving the cover of the forest (3) (5).

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Source: ARKive

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