Yellowhead

Mohua ochrocephala

SUBFAMILY

Mohuinae

TAXONOMY

Mohua ochrocephala Gmelin, 1798, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Mohua, bush canary; French: Mohoua à tête jaune; German: Weissköpfchen; Spanish: Cabeza Amarilla.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6 in (15 cm); c. 0.7 oz (20 g). Brownish olive upperparts with bright yellow head and yellow breast.

DISTRIBUTION

South Island of New Zealand, including Marlborough, Nelson, Westland, western Otago, Southland and near Dunedin.

HABITAT

Forest, especially dominated by beech (Nothofagus). BEHAVIOR

Pairs and trios occupy large home ranges in breeding season. Several families form larger flocks in nonbreeding season, which are joined by other bird species. Varied, mechanical call of six to eight notes rapidly repeated.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Spend most of the day foraging, in shaded canopy or upper subcanopy. Glean from foliage, branches and trunks and some times rip into dead wood. Mostly insectivorous, especially taking larvae, but occasionally eat fruit, flowers and fungi.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Facultatively cooperative or possibly polygamous. Breeds October to February. Cup-shaped nests placed in holes. Three to four pinkish eggs, blotched with reddish brown. Incubated by female for 18-21 days, young fledge at 21 days and are fed by two or three adults up to 55 more days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Declared Vulnerable, due to extensive decline as a result of forest loss. Also avoids edges, stunted and regrowth forests. Less vulnerable to nest predators than many New Zealand birds, due to hole nesting, but recently fledged young may be at risk.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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