New Zealand fernbird
|New Zealand fernbird|
The New Zealand fernbird was described by the French zoologists Jean Quoy and Joseph Gaimard in 1832 from a specimen collected in Tasman Bay, South Island, New Zealand. They coined the binomial name, Synallaxis punctata.[a]
There are five subspecies:
- P. p. punctatus (South Island fernbird)
- P. p. vealeae (North Island fernbird)
- P. p. stewartianus (Stewart Island fernbird)
- P. p. wilsoni (Codfish Island fernbird)
- P. p. caudatus (Snares fernbird)
The New Zealand fernbird is a rich brown above and white below, with brown spots on both the throat and breast. Early settlers called it the "swamp sparrow" no doubt because of its colouration. The tail feathers are thin, dark brown, and spine-like. The birds reach a length of 18 cm (7 in) – as measured from tip of beak to end of tail. However, almost half of that is tail.
The New Zealand fernbird is a ground-dwelling bird, and is a reluctant flier, travelling mainly on foot or in occasional short flights of less than 15 metres. In the 19th century, Buller described it as "one of our most common" (birds) but it has been adversely affected by the subsequent widespread destruction of its natural wetland habitat following European settlement and is now rare.
The birds nest in sedges or other vegetation close to the ground, making a deep woven cup of dried rushes lined with feathers. Breeding occurs from September to February, producing clutches of 2-3 pinkish-white eggs with brown or purple speckles.
Place in Māori culture
Māori revered the fernbird as an "oracle" or "wise bird" (Manu tohu). The calls of the bird were interpreted as heralding success or failure in daily activities such as fishing but on a more serious level could also portend prosperity and health or disaster and death.
- Although the volume of the Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe has 1830 on the title page it was not published until 1832.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Bowdleria punctata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Quoy, Jean; Gaimard, Joseph Paul (1830). Dumont d'Urville, Jules (ed.). Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe : exécuté par ordre du roi, pendant les années 1826-1827-1828-1829: Zoologie (in French). Volume 1. Paris: J. Tastu. p. 255.
- Mlíkovský, Jiří (2012). "The dating of the ornithological part of Quoy and Gaimard's "Voyage de l'Astrolabe"". Zoological bibliography. 2 (2&3): 59–69.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Bowdleria rufescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Wetlands of New Zealand; A Bitter-Sweet story", Janet Hunt, Random House, 2007