The Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata) is an insectivorous bird endemic to New Zealand. The M?ori names are K?t?t? or M?t?t?. It is a rich brown above and white below, with brown spots on both the throat and breast. Early settlers called it the "Swamp Sparrow" no doubt because of its colouration. The tail feathers are thin, dark brown, and spine-like. The birds reach a length of 18 cm (7 in) - as measured from tip of beak to end of tail. However,almost half of that is tail
The Fernbird is a ground-dwelling bird, and is a reluctant flier, travelling mainly on foot or in occasional short flights of less than 15 metres. In the 19th century Buller described it as "one of our most common" (birds) but it has been adversely affected by the subsequent widespread destruction of its natural (wetland) habitat following European settlement and is now rare
There are six fully protected sub-species of Fernbird:
- Bowdleria punctata punctata (South Island Fernbird)
- Bowdleria punctata vealeae (North Island Fernbird)
- Bowdleria punctata stewartiana (Stewart Island Fernbird)
- Bowdleria punctata wilsoni (Codfish Island Fernbird)
- Bowdleria punctata caudata (Snares Fernbird)
- Bowdleria punctata insularis.
Bowdleria (punctata) rufescens (the Chatham Islands Fernbird) is believed to have become extinct circa 1900.
The birds nest in sedges or other vegetation close to the ground, making a deep woven cup of dried rushes lined with feathers. Breeding occurs from September to February, producing clutches of 2-3 pinkish-white eggs with brown or purple speckles.
Place in M?ori culture
M?ori revered the Fernbird as an "oracle" or "Wise bird" (Manu tohu). The calls of the bird were interpreted as heralding success or faliure in daily activites such as fishing but on a more serious level could also portend prosperity and health or diaster and death.