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Assembly the Mōhua – ZOOMOLOGY BLOG


A weblog publish by Tom

The genus Mohoua is a small group of three birds species endemic to New Zealand: the pīpipi/brown creeper (Mohoua novaeseelandiae), the pōpokotea/whitehead (Mohoua albicilla) and, the topic of this publish, the mōhua/yellowhead (Mohoua ochrocephala).

Emma and I’ve had encounters with pīpipi and pōpokotea earlier than however, till visiting Whenua Hou, the mōhua had eluded us. All three species look related of their form, tough measurement and basic mannerisms, however the mōhua is arguably essentially the most hanging.

We heard the mōhua earlier than we noticed them. Like our experiences with their cousins, they have been most frequently noticed excessive above us within the timber peering down and chattering to at least one one other.


A Few Mōhua Details

The place are they discovered?
The mōhua is a forest dwelling tune chook discovered solely within the southern half of New Zealand.

What different names are they referred to as?
They’re identified by many names together with yellowheads, bush canaries or custard heads (as their conservation scientists affectionately name them).

What do they eat?
They’re primarily insectivorous. They spend a variety of time gleaning bugs from the moss and bark of timber.

What do they appear to be?
They’re small in measurement, being solely about 15cm in size. As you’ll have seen in our photographs, they’ve conspicuous yellow heads and breasts. They’ve inflexible tail feathers which act as a prop for the birds because the work their approach round a tree trying to find bugs. Their tail feathers are sometimes very worn on account of this.

What do they sound like?
Their name is commonly described as machine-gun like, a fast chatter amongst cheerful melodic notes. Pay attention right here and on the New Zealand Birds On-line web site. As they usually forage in teams, they will create fairly a cacophony!

The place do they lay their eggs?
They nest in tree hollows and might produce as much as 4 eggs in a clutch.


The Regular Story

This will probably be a well-known story to all New Zealand naturalists: The story of the mōhua’s decline to close extinction.

Not so way back, again within the 1800s, mōhua have been quite common. Being brightly colored, they’d have been a daily splash of yellow amongst the virtually solely green-brown native bush. Early European settlers named them bush canaries as a result of they flocked collectively making incessant, melodious calls. Nevertheless, this was to not final. With the arrival of those European settlers got here deforestation and the introduction of predators within the type of rats, cats, stoats and possums to call a number of. Quickly, mōhua have been pushed from most native forest sorts besides a number of beech forests which supplied sufficient insect meals for them to carry on.


What are we left with?

In line with the Division of Conservation, the mōhua’s inhabitants is presently lower than 5000 birds. They’re now absent from 75% of their historic vary.

The 30 populations which are left might be break up into 4 broad teams: populations east of the Southern Alps, Fiordland birds, Southland/Otago hill nation birds, and people on predator-free off-shore islands (together with these on Whenua Hou). A number of the islands the place mōhua are actually discovered have been populated by purposefully translocated birds with a purpose to assist safeguard the mōhua’s future.

The Division of Conservation initiated the Yellowhead/mōhua restoration plan which has the objective to “keep and improve mōhua populations all through their current vary and past, by halting and reversing the degradation of the forest ecosystem.” There may be additionally the Mōhua Charitable Belief which is devoted to revive Mōhua and different native fauna populations again to the numbers that have been as soon as present in New Zealand’s native forests.


A Optimistic Be aware

In contrast to most of the declining New Zealand native birds, mōhua have a life historical past trait which may act of their favour on the subject of their possibilities of inhabitants restoration: They’ll lay 4 eggs in a clutch and might produce two clutches in yr. Which means that with the proper of conservation measures (measures which permit them the prospect to breed, discover nest spots, quantity of meals and keep away from predation) might lead to sturdy inhabitants positive factors.

An instance of this in motion might be discovered within the Landsborough Valley in South Westland. Following sustained predator management to suppress rats, stoats and possums, the mōhua’s inhabitants elevated 30 fold to develop into the most typical chook counted within the research space in 2019. You may learn a information story about it right here.

Right here is hoping that with a bit assist, these residing down south is not going to must journey far to listen to and see these birds sooner or later as they slowly return to their historic vary.


Till Subsequent Time

(…”subsequent time” has been taking fairly some time lately!)

Now we’ve got met the mōhua, it’ll quickly be time to identify some sundews (the main target of Emma’s subsequent publish). Learn extra about Whenua Hou and our different wildlife encounters right here:


References and Additional Studying

Division of Conservation – Yellowhead/Mohua – https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/yellowhead-mohua/
(Retrieved 07/07/2020)

The Mōhua Charitable Belief – Homepage – http://www.mohua.co.nz/index.html
(Retrieved 07/07/2020)

New Zealand Birds On-line – Yellowhead – http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/yellowhead
(Retrieved 07/07/2020)

Scoop – Mohua goes from uncommon to frequent in 21 years – https://www.scoop.co.nz/tales/SC1905/S00011/mohua-goes-from-rare-to-common-in-21-years.htm
(Retrieved 07/07/2020)



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