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GALLERIES > BIRDS > PASSERIFORMES > ACANTHISITTIDAE > RIFLEMAN [Acanthisitta chloris]


Rifleman Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Rifleman, Acanthisitta chloris, (M?ori: T?tipounamu) is a small insectivorous passerine bird that is endemic to New Zealand. The bird resembles a wren in form but is not linked to the family of true wrens, Troglodytidae.

It belongs to the Acanthisittidae family. All other members of the family are either vulnerable or extinct.

Description

The Rifleman is New Zealand's smallest endemic bird with fully grown adults reaching around 8 cm. The male Rifleman is bright green on the dorsal side while the female is of a more somber brownish tone and her head and back are flecked with ochre. Male birds typically weigh around 6 g, females 7 g. Both birds are white on their under surfaces and have white eyebrow stripes. They have short, rounded wings, a very short tail, and a long thin awl"?like bill which is slightly upturned for insertion into cracks. The rifleman flies quickly with a wing beat producing a characteristic humming sound.

Distribution and habitat

The true habitat of this bird is thinly wooded forests, but other similar New Zealand species live near rocky outcrops. The Rifleman is the most widespread species of acanthisittids in the two islands of New Zealand. However the bird occurs only rarely in latitudes north of Te Aroha. The North Island subspecies, granti, occurs mainly in lowland Tawa forest, while the south island subspecies, chloris, is found in high altitude beech forest or lowland areas forested with podocarp.

Behaviour

Diet

The Rifleman is insectivorous and searches for maggots and small insects on tree trunks and among leaf litter on the forest floor. The Rifleman searches for food in a similar way to the Treecreeper. The bird begins its search from the base of a tree and climbs up it progressively, spiralling up around the trunk. Upon finishing its search of a particular tree, the bird glides to the foot of a neighbouring tree and begins its search again.

Reproduction

Acanthisittids build their nest in rock fissues, holes in tree trunks, or even in cavities in the ground. The nest entrance is often so narrow that the bird struggles to get inside. The nest most commonly has a dome shape and is finely interwoven with blades of grass, down feathers and other kinds of light material. Brooding lasts 13-15 days with the female laying 4-5 eggs. Two broods per year are common.





                                     



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