Yellowhead, Mohoua ochrocephala

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, Mohoua, Bush Canary

Yellowhead warble

Mohoua, or Yellowhead

One of the most distinctive of our smaller forest species, Yellowhead or Mohoua are one of the 4 species returned to Ulva Island after rats were eradicated. Absent from
Stewart Island for many years their numbers have increased slowly on Ulva and we often see them moving quickly through the canopy and trunks searching for insects. They will sometimes come down onto the forest floor where they often prop themselves up on one leg and scratch like domestic henssearching for bugs. And I’ve watched them do this in the duff that accumulates up in the crooks of trees. Clinging onto trunks of bigger trees the tail will come into play as the lower leg of a tripod. This results in a premoult tail looking decidedly scruffy, often worn down to just the centre spine for much of its length.

The video clip is of an adult working a tree fern

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They are cavity nesters and can be polygamous with a pair of females sharing incubation duties and possibly even mates.

Feeding a juvenile

Their song is one of those I really love to hear and the high notes, together with distinctive yellow shoulder and head give them the alternative English name of Bush Canary.Yellowhead

Liberated on Ulva about the same time as Saddlebacks, Stewart Island Robins and Rifleman, Yellowheads increase has been much slower. On the South Island of New Zealand numbers have increased quite rapidly wherever rat control progarms have been run. Which would lead me to wonder if there is something in Beech (Nothofagus) Forest which we of course lack on Stewart Island … we have no beech trees here.
We often see them flocking with Brown Creeper and Grey Warbler, and if the flocks are really large will usually have an attendant Fantail or two oportunistically feeding on the disturbed insects plus a parrakeet or two working the trunks.

Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

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Peter Tait

Peter Tait

Peter Tait is a professional nature guide based at Stewart Island, New Zealand, and he works primarily on Ulva Island Open Sanctuary. Peter has been resident on the Island for over 40 years and was one time Forest Ranger in Charge of Stewart Island. Fishing followed forestry and was in turn followed by Talisker, a 17m charter yacht. He is qualified Skipper Deep Sea Fishing Vessel. In addition to guiding Peter and his wife Iris are hosts at Sails Ashore Lodge.

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