The Hihi, or Stitchbird, is a small bird with a unique appearance. The male Stitchbird has striking plumage with a black head, back, and wings, while the belly and chest are bright yellow. The female is similar but with less vibrant colours. They have a slender beak and a small white tuft on the shoulder.
Stitchbird are endemic to New Zealand and are primarily found in the lowland and coastal forests of the North Island. They have a restricted range and were once found throughout the country, but their populations significantly declined in the past. Conservation efforts have led to successful reintroductions on offshore islands.
Stitchbird has a unique feeding behaviour as nectarivorous birds. They have a specialised brush-tipped tongue that allows them to extract nectar from native tree flowers, such as kōwhai and pōhutukawa. In addition to nectar, they also consume insects, fruits, and honeydew.
Stitchbird breed during the spring and summer months. They construct cup-shaped nests of moss, bark, and leaves, usually in tree cavities or dense foliage. The female lays 2-4 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks.
The Stitchbird is classified as vulnerable, and conservation efforts are focused on protecting and restoring their habitat. Factors such as habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals, and competition with other bird species have contributed to their decline.
Stitchbird are attracted to a variety of native tree species that produce nectar-rich flowers, including kōwhai, pōhutukawa, rātā, and flax. These trees provide an important food source for Stitchbird, and their presence in the habitat is crucial for their survival.