North Island robin

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North Island robin
North Island Robin-edit.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Petroicidae
Genus: Petroica
Species: P. longipes
Binomial name
Petroica longipes
Garnot, 1827

The North Island robin (Petroica longipes) is a species of Australasian robin endemic to the North Island of New Zealand. It and the South Island robin of South and Stewart Islands were once considered conspecific (and called the New Zealand robin), but mitochondrial DNA sequences have shown that the two lineages split prior to the Pleistocene and supported the split into two species.[2] The North Island robin is distributed mostly in the centre of North Island, with small relict populations in the north and south in Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands, Little Barrier Island and Kapiti Island.[3] Populations have been reestablished in Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and Moehau in the Coromandel Peninsula.[4][5] A remnant population is also reestablishing itself in the Ohope Scenic Reserve in the Bay of Plenty. 40 birds have also been translocated from Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, to the Ohope Scenic Reserve[6] to assist in the re-establishment of the species. Their natural habitat is mostly natural forest, particularly Podocarpus and Nothofagus forests, from sea level up to the tree line.


Juvenile begging for food

The plumage is dark grey-black overall with a pale area on the belly and breast (which is smaller than that of the South Island robin) and pale streaking on the upperparts. They are sexually dimorphic, with males having darker plumage than the females and being slightly larger.[7]



Standing perfectly still on a perch awaiting prey

The North Island robin, like the South Island robin, is a terrestrial feeder foraging on or near the ground (unlike the related and more arboreal tomtit). Prey items are located by perch-hunting, where an individual waits at an elevated perch until prey is spotted, or by active searching; prey is taken from the leaf-litter, low vegetation (branches and foliage) and tree trunks. Numerous invertebrate prey is taken, including cicadas, earthworms, wetas, snails, and spiders. Fruit is also taken.[3] North Island robins cache food supplies for later when prey is plentiful, although males cache more food than females do.[8] Both sexes will steal food from their mate's cache, and are less likely to cache food if their mate is present.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Petroica longipes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Miller, Hilary C. & Lambert, David M. (2006): A molecular phylogeny of New Zealand’s Petroica (Aves: Petroicidae) species based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40(3): 844-855.
  3. ^ a b Higgins, P.J. & J.M. Peter (eds) 2003. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. ISBN 0-19-553762-9
  4. ^ Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (2006) Toutouwai / Robin, Nth Is.. Accessed 6 May 2016
  5. ^ Department of Conservation (2006) Wildlife welcome robin onto Moehau in the northern Coromandel. Accessed 21 November 2013
  6. ^
  7. ^ Armstrong, D (2001) "Sexing North Island robins (Petroica australis longipes) from morphometrics and plumage" Notornis 48: 76-80
  8. ^ Burns, K.C. & Steer J (2006) "Dominance rank influences food hoarding in New Zealand Robins Petroica australis" Ibis 148: 266-272