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New Zealand wattlebirds
Huia Buller.jpg
Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Corvoidea
Family: Callaeidae
Sundevall, 1836


Callaeidae (sometimes Callaeatidae) is a family of passerine birds endemic to New Zealand. It contains three genera, with five species in the family. One species, the huia, became extinct early in the 20th century, while the South Island kokako is critically endangered and may be extinct.

Although sometimes known as wattled crows, they are not corvids and are only distantly related to crows - New Zealand wattlebirds is the informal name for this family used by the scientific community.[1]

Biology and evolution[edit]

They are ground-dwelling songbirds, 26–38 cm in length. They inhabit dense forests, where they feed on insects. They have strong legs and featherless wattles behind the bill. Their wings are rounded and unusually weak, giving them very limited powers of flight. They are monogamous and maintain permanent territories.[2]

These birds seem to be remnants of an early expansion of passerines to New Zealand. Their only close relative is the stitchbird; their more distant relationships are still unknown.[3]

A molecular study of the nuclear RAG-1 and c-mos genes of the three species within the family proved inconclusive, the data providing most support for either a basally diverging kokako or huia.[4]



  1. ^ Higgins, P.J. & J.M. Peter (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. ISBN 0-19-553762-9
  2. ^ Lindsey, Terence (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. p. 225. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  3. ^ Ewen, John G.; Flux, Ian; Ericson, Per G. P.; et al. (2006). "Systematic affinities of two enigmatic New Zealand passerines of high conservation priority, the hihi or stitchbird Notiomystis cincta and the kokako Callaeas cinerea". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 40 (1): 281–284. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.026. PMID 16527495.
  4. ^ Shepherd, Lara D.; Lambert, David M. (2007). "The relationships and origins of the New Zealand wattlebirds (Passeriformes, Callaeatidae) from DNA sequence analyses". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 43 (2): 480–92. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.12.008. PMID 17369056.