from the Wellington City Council website

Photo credit: Tony Stoddard

“The stitchbird or hihi (Notiomystis cincta) is a honeyeater-like bird endemic to the North Island and adjacent offshore islands of New Zealand”

But if you want to find out what makes the little birds special, and why we should care about them, then searching the web probably isn’t going to cut it. 

“They just streak through the forest. It really is a flash and then it’s gone,” says Rachel Selwyn, ranger at Zealandia in charge of managing the hihi population. 

“Or you’ll be standing there and you’ll just notice that it’s there, right next to you. It’s a very inquisitive and very curious bird. 

“The males also do this thing at the feeders where they flair their ear tufts, and I know this isn’t a scientific term, but they do this little dance, posturing to the other males.” 

The hihi, it turns out, is a bit of a character. 

Once found all over the North Island, deforestation, disease, and the introduction of predators led to its eventual exclusion to Te Hauturu-o-toi/ Little Barrier Island. 

There are now seven wild populations of hihi across New Zealand, with estimates of upwards of 2000 across the country, making it one of our rarest birds. 

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