The Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata) is a small bird native to New Zealand, known for its secretive nature and muted plumage. It has a plump body, measuring around 14 centimetres in length, and a short, straight bill. The plumage of the Fernbird is predominantly brown, with darker streaks and mottling on the upper parts and lighter under parts. It has a relatively long tail and short wings.
Fernbirds are endemic to New Zealand and can be found in various habitats, including wetlands, swamps, marshes, and areas with dense vegetation. They are most commonly associated with reedbeds, flax (harakeke) stands, and other wetland environments. Fernbirds are distributed throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand, as well as several offshore islands.
Fernbirds primarily feed on invertebrates, such as insects and spiders, which they find within the dense vegetation of their habitat. They use their short bill to probe into leaf litter, stems, and the base of plants in search of prey. Fernbirds also consume small seeds and occasionally supplement their diet with berries and nectar.
Fernbirds breed during the New Zealand spring and summer seasons. They construct cup-shaped nests using grass, leaves, and other plant materials. The nests are usually situated close to or within the dense vegetation of their habitat, providing camouflage and protection. The female lays a clutch of 2-4 eggs, and both parents participate in incubation and raising the chicks.
Fernbirds are classified as "Nationally Vulnerable" in New Zealand due to their limited distribution and vulnerability to habitat loss and degradation. Wetland drainage, invasive predators, and habitat fragmentation pose significant threats to their population. Conservation efforts focus on protecting and restoring wetland habitats, controlling predators, and managing land use practices to support Fernbird populations.
Fernbirds are strongly associated with wetland vegetation, including reed beds (bulrush), flax (harakeke), and other dense reed-beds and marsh plants. These habitats provide suitable nesting sites, cover, and a diverse range of invertebrates for food.