Xenicus longipes ssp. longipes (Gmelin)

Bushwren (Xenicus longipes ssp. longipes)

The Bushwren, called huru-pounamumatuhimatuhituhi, or piwauwau by the Maori, was a 9 to 10 cm small, nearly flightless bird that was originally found very abundantly in the dense forests of New Zealand’s three main islands, each inhabited by an endemic subspecies respectively.


The nominate race was endemic to South Island, it was still very common in the middle of the 19th century, when Walter L. Buller in his “A history of the birds of New Zealand” wrote the following note.:

It is generally met with singly or in pairs, but sometimes several are associated, attracting notice by the sprightliness of their movements. They run along the boles and branches of the trees with restless activity, peering into every crevice and searching the bark for the small insects and larvae on which they feed. It is strictly arboreal in its habits, never being seen on the ground, in which respect it differs conspicuously from the closely allied species Xenicus gilviventris. It has a week but lively note, and its powers of flight are very limited.” [1]


The Bushwren begun to disappear very quickly after Stoats (Mustela erminea L.) were introduced to New Zealand in the 1880s with the last official sigthing of birds of the nominate race having taken place in 1968 in the Nelson Lakes National Park in the northern part of South Island.



[1] Walter L. Buller: A history of the birds of New Zealand. London: John Van Voorst 1873


(the two birds above)

Depiction from: ‘Walter L. Buller: A history of the birds of New Zealand. London: John Van Voorst 1873’

(public domain)


edited: 17.04.2019