New Zealand rockwren

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New Zealand rockwren
Rock wren.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Acanthisitti
Family: Acanthisittidae
Genus: Xenicus
Species: X. gilviventris
Binomial name
Xenicus gilviventris
Pelzeln, 1867

The New Zealand rockwren (Xenicus gilviventris), or rock wren, or pīwauwau in Māori, is a small New Zealand wren (family Acanthisittidae) endemic to the South Island of New Zealand. It is sometimes known as the South Island wren, a name used to separate it from the unrelated rock wren of North America. While the species is currently restricted to alpine areas of the South Island, fossil evidence indicates it was once present in the North Island, as well. It is the rarer of the two surviving species of New Zealand wrens and is threatened by introduced mammals.

The rockwren is the only surviving species in the genus Xenicus, and is thought to have been closely related to the formerly more widespread bushwren. Like the bushwren and the rifleman, the rock wren is a poor flier, rarely flying more than 2 m off the ground or for distances of more than 30 m. It is highly terrestrial, feeding in low scrub, open scree, and rockfalls in alpine areas.


A University of Otago study of over 2,000 sightings between 1912 and 2005 showed that areas the wren inhabited had declined by 24% since 1984.[2]

In 2008, nine rock wrens were translocated to Secretary Island, a predator-free island in Fiordland. Over the following two years, a total of 40 rockwrens were transferred onto the island.[3] In 2010, a survey located 12 unbanded rockwrens on Secretary Island, indicating they had started breeding successfully.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Xenicus gilviventris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rock wren sightings sought as figures fall". Otago Daily Times. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Secretary Island Translocation". Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand Rock wren thriving on new sanctuary". Wildlife Extra. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 

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