Wildlife - Toutouwai / robin

Toutouwai / robin


The robin or toutouwai is a friendly and trusting bird, often coming to within a couple of metres of people.  However, it is not really the human presence that attracts, rather the invertebrates disturbed by our activities.  If you scuff in the leaf litter the robin will be very attentive.

Robins are related to the tomtit but slightly bigger with longer legs.  The body shape and the dark plumage with pale breast are common to both of these species from the genus Petroica.  Two species of robin are recognised, one in the North Island and one in the South.

Like the tomtit, you may first become aware of the presence of robins from the loud, strident territory song that can be heard for much of the year.  Males, and in particular bachelors, can be very vocal.

New Zealand robins are relatively long-lived, surviving up to 14 years where few or no introduced predators exist.  However, their habit of nesting close to the ground and in crevices or niches make them vulnerable.

Some people remember them being present along the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park years ago but gradual predation means this is no longer the case. They can be readily found at higher altitudes though such as Evans Ridge, upper Wainui Valley and Harwoods Hole.

In 2009 robins were re-introduced to Adele Island by the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust as mice and stoats had been removed.  The founders of this new population came from Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds and in order to ensure genetic diversity others were transferred from Canaan. Listen to the birdsong from Motuareronui Adele Island live.

This population is now at carrying capacity for the island with some having flown the short distance to colonise Fisherman Island.  The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust translocated 50 robin to Pitt Head on the mainland in 2016 however only a few stayed in the area. If you see a robin on the mainland let us know through the Abel Tasman Phone App.

Bird calls courtesy of NZ birds online

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