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New Zealand Wattlebirds: Callaeidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Wattlebirds spend their days foraging mainly for insect food in forest trees and in the leaf litter on forest floors. They are poor fliers but quick, efficient ground runners and tree climbers. Since they had little to fear in the way of ground predators before the arrival of humankind, flight became less of a necessity for the wattlebirds' ancestors in New Zealand, so that they were freed from having to consume the enormous amounts of energy needed for flying.

Saddlebacks breed from October into January. The female builds a nest of twigs and grasses in a rock crevice or a hollow in a tree, then lays two light gray or whitish eggs, which the female incubates for twenty days. The male feeds the female while she is nesting, and both parents feed the chicks. The chicks fledge at twenty-one days of age. Kokako pairs breed from November through February and raise up to three clutches of chicks over the course of one year.

Wattlebirds sing to attract mates and establish and keep territory. Their singing has been described as similar to organ music, haunting, melodious, and complex.


Among the more exotic food items that New Zealand wattlebirds prey upon is a sort of creature as unique to New Zealand as the wattlebirds. They are wetas, giant crickets that can grow larger than mice. Most weta species are omnivorous, just as are most mice species, eating mostly plant material with some insect prey, but a few species have become more or less completely carnivorous. They are no sort of threat to human beings.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsNew Zealand Wattlebirds: Callaeidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, New Zealand Wattlebirds And People, Conservation Status, Kokako (callaeas Cinerea): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET