Stitchbird
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Stitchbird

Common names: Stitchbird
Scientific name: Notiomystis cincta
Size: 18 cm
Weight: 36.5 g (male); 30 g (female)
Population: 4,500 individuals
Distribution: throughout the North Island plus Great Barrier, Little Barrier and Kapiti Islands.
Issues: Invasive species
IUCN Red List Status: vulnerable

The Stitchbird (or locally named Hihi), Notiomystis cincta, is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. The only representative of a New Zealand endemic bird family, the last natural population of this forest-dwelling species is now restricted to a single small offshore island.

This charismatic bird was once found throughout the northern regions of New Zealand, but declined rapidly following European arrival probably linked to forest clearance and the introduction of non-native mammalian predators. One remnant population has remained on the isolated Little Barrier (Hauturu) Island since the late 1800’s, with a population recently estimated between 500 to 2000 individuals. The Stitchbird is particularly vulnerable to predation due to their cavity-nesting habits.

A national recovery programme, started in 1980, has been using reintroduction methods to increase the range and numbers of Stitchbirds. To date there have been 21 reintroductions to 8 different locations. However, success of reintroductions has been variable and often requires intensive supportive management to maintain viable populations. Currently there are five reintroduced populations.

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