Mohoua albicilla

Photo by Rosie Perera (Flickr)

Common name:
whitehead (en); cabeça-branca (pt); mohoua à tête blanche (fr); mohoua cabeciblanco (es); weißköpfchen (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Pachycephalidae

This species is endemic to New Zealand, only being found in North Island and several offshore islands surrounding it, including Little Barrier Island, Great Barrier Island and Kapiti Island.

These birds are 15 cm long and weigh 14,5-18,5 g.

The whitehead is mostly found in native scrublands and forests, but also in rural gardens, arable land and plantations.

They glean insects and other arthropods from tree trunks, mainly taking spiders, moths, caterpillars and beetles. These are supplemented with fruits of native plants such as māhoe and matipo.

Whiteheads breed in November-January. They nest in a cup placed in the tree canopy or lower down in smaller trees and scrubs, 1-15 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 eggs of variable colouration, which are incubated by both parents for 18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16-19 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and is described as common on Kapiti and Little Barrier islands and moderately common in forested areas of the north island of New Zealand. The population is in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and introduced predators, but the whitehead is not threatened at present.

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