A Tīeke (North Island Saddleback) perched on a branch with tail in the air.


My Mum’s favourite bird, and one of my favourites, too, the Tīeke (North Island Saddleback, Philesturnus rufusater) is easily identified by its striking colour scheme.

There are two species of Tīeke, the North Island (rufusater) and South Island (carunculatus) which are two of the five species of New Zealand Wattlebirds (family Callaeidae). Given the Huia is extinct, and the South Island Kōkako is presumed extinct, that makes these birds all the more special.

Although classified as “locally abundant” there is only a single natural population remaining, on Hen Island. Species management is responsible for their abundance in half a dozen mainland sanctuaries and a dozen offshore islands.

This specimen was photographed in Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne. I had been seeking to photograph Tīeke from the very first time I took a camera in and had managed to get some half decent shots with much work.

On this day I was about to exit the sanctuary when I noticed a couple of people peering through a gap in the trees and stopped to see what they were looking at. It was this Tīeke, on a bare tree, with the lake a distant backdrop, and it stayed still long enough for me to line up this shot.







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