Mohoua ochrocephala 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Acanthizidae

Scientific Name: Mohoua ochrocephala
Species Authority: (Gmelin, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Yellowhead
Taxonomic Source(s): Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
Identification information: 15 cm. Small, yellow bird with bright yellow head. Male, bright yellow head, underparts. Yellowish-brown upperparts. Female and juvenile similar, but crown, nape more brown. Similar spp. Introduced Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella has reddish-brown upperparts streaked with black, prefers open country. Voice Male song canary-like. Hints Often associate in noisy feeding flocks high in canopy.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2be+3be+4be;C2a(i)b ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Grant, A., Hitchmough, R. & O'Donnell, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Harding, M., Khwaja, N., McClellan, R., Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Endangered because its very small population has recently undergone very rapid population declines following stoat and rat irruptions, and some subpopulations have been extirpated. Within its very small and declining range, surviving populations are becoming increasingly fragmented.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Mohoua ochrocephala is endemic to New Zealand where it was formerly widespread in the South and Stewart Islands. It has disappeared from 75% of its former range since the arrival of Europeans and introduced predators (O'Donnell 1996, O'Donnell et al. 1996), and is now extinct on Stewart Island, having also gone from several areas of large, unmodified forest on the South Island (O'Donnell 1996). Strongholds are in the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks, with c.10 other small, fragmented populations (Elliott and O'Donnell 1988). The total population numbers 2,000-3,000 individuals (A. Grant per R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005), mostly in Fiordland, and is declining rapidly, being also subject to severe fluctuations (Heather and Robertson 1997, R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005). During 1982-1993, out of 14 monitored populations, one became extinct, five seriously declined (three to the verge of extinction), one increased and seven did not change significantly. The species was also seriously affected by rat irruptions in 1999-2000, with two populations undergoing local extinction and three more having significant population crashes. However, some populations have now been established on offshore islands (R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005).

Countries occurrence:
New Zealand
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:16900
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population has been estimated to number 1,000-2,499 mature individuals (A. Grant per R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005). This equates to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000.

Trend Justification:  The species's population is estimated to be experiencing a very rapid population decline (A. Grant per R. Hitchmough in litt. 2005).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:1000-2499Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:YesPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:1-89

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Its preferred habitat is lowland red beech Nothofagus fusca forest on river terraces (Heather and Robertson 1997), although it was once present in podocarp/hardwood forests (Elliott 1996). It is primarily insectivorous, but occasionally feeds on fruit when in season. It nests in small cavities in large, old trees (Elliott et al. 1996). It usually lays three eggs in two clutches per season (Elliott 1996). Its life expectancy is five years, although two wild birds are at least 16 years old (C. O'Donnell in litt. 1999).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Approximately every four to six years, Nothofagus trees produce prolific seeds, and insect, then mouse, then stoat Mustela erminea numbers irrupt. Mustela erminea take eggs, chicks and a disproportionate number of adult females. In such years, breeding success and the number of adult females in some populations can decrease by 50-100% (Elliott 1996, O'Donnell and Phillipson 1996, O'Donnell et al. 1996). The period between population crashes is generally insufficient for full recovery (Elliott and O'Donnell 1988, Heather and Robertson 1997). Black rats Rattus rattus are also implicated (O'Donnell et al. 1996), and caused serious recent population crashes.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
A monitoring programme, initiated in 1983, covers 14 populations at 12 key sites (O'Donnell 1996). A range of studies assisting the species's management has been completed and several are on-going. Intensive trapping is carried out in key habitats for the control of M. erminea during years of heavy seeding (O'Donnell 1993). Birds have been successfully translocated to three habitats free of mammalian predators, including on Codfish Island in 2003, where the following breeding season was successful (Anon. 2004). A captive population has recently been established (C. O'Donnell in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Search for new, undiscovered populations. Improve management techniques for effective predator control over large geographic areas. Improve understanding of factors that impact on populations. Manage key wild populations. Undertake further island transfers, including re-establishing birds in podocarp/hardwood forest-types. Continue development of captive-management potential (C. O'Donnell in litt. 1999).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Mohoua ochrocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22705397A39300924. . Downloaded on 05 December 2016.
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