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Small populations of Fernbirds are thriving around the Kaipara Harbour, in areas of salt marsh, near wetlands, and in riparian margins. 

The Fernbird (Bowdleria punctata or Matata), is a protected endemic whose populations in Rodney have declined over recent decades with the loss of wetland and fernland to rural development. Small areas of salt marsh and wetland habitats still support pockets of these birds with some protected areas boasting small, but increasing local populations.

Nationally the Fernbird has disappeared from much of the southern North Island and eastern South Island, but still occurs in other areas on poorer land, unsuitable for farming. The South Kaipara Lakes and many areas of coastal salt marsh on the Kaipara are good places to look for Fernbirds.  These are small brown birds (about 18cm), with a cream/brown breast, spotted with brown, and a distinctive long, frayed and fanned tail drooping in flight.

They can be located by a distinctive single click call, often described (and imitated) as the sound from striking two stones together.  They also have a melodic three-note warble, that is only rarely heard.  Fernbirds are cryptic birds, preferring the shelter of dense, thick coastal scrub, such as coastal ribbonwood, rushes, flax and low areas of manuka. 

Reports of Fernbirds in Kaipara are always welcomed.  Click here to send an email.

Learn more about birding in your area with OSNZ by going to website and selecting the Auckland Region contact.

Photo: Geoff Moon