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Stitch bird (Hihi)

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Annabella Simmmons

on 27 November 2013

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Transcript of Stitch bird (Hihi)

Stitch bird (Hihi)
Introduction to the Stitch Bird (Hihi)
The Stitch bird (Hihi) is one of many birds which are endangered (a species with low numbers that could become extinct.). It has a life span on seven years. The Stitchbird was both rare and poorly known until the 1990s. Stitchbirds are often curious, approaching people for close examination whilst projecting warning calls, the call is high pitch and sounds like tzit tzit. The population is estimated to number a minimum of 3,000 mature individuals (J. Ewen et al, 2012), assumed to equate to a total population of c.4,500 individuals.

How effective is science and its applications in conserving the species
Factors relating to the conservation of the species
How does it use science and its applications?
Scientists are investigating where the populations success has been and where it hasn’t been so they can use the successful ideas on all of the islands. The work is focuses on understanding how to improve the birds ability to breed (i.e. they experimented with breeding programs) Specifically they are studying the relationship between the types and structure of the vegetation and how successful the stitch birds are at reproducing. They are also evaluating the differences in how the stitch birds use the forest and how important the availability of suitable holes in trees there are for nesting. To do this they have to climb up step scrub and trees to find nests and hopefully spot birds. In areas where these aren’t sufficient holes in trees. They place nesting boxes with in the forest. Dr. Castro a specialist in conservation found evidence to suggest that stitch birds breeding was limited by the availability in food. She found that female Stitch birds need a lot more food than previously thought in order to breed more successfully. In fact she found that the birds could double their reproduction though extra feeding. (Dr. Castro, 1996).
The Stitch bird is a small bird. Males have a dark velvety cap and short white ear-tufts. There is a yellow band across the chest which separates the black head from the rest of the grey body. Females and younger ones are duller than males, and don’t have the black head and yellow chest band. The bill is thin and kind of curved.
The Stitchbird lives mature forest where hollow trees can be found. At this time it is only found in predator-free offshore islands scattered around the New Zealand North Island coast, especially Little Barrier Island (where the last natural population survives) and Tiritiri-Matangi. They have re-introduced them on Kapiti Island, and on the mainland in Auckland (Ark in the Park) and Wellington (Zealandia). Stitch birds feed on invertebrates, fruits and nectar. It gets the nectar out by a long tongue that has a brush and the end.
Unlike most other birds the Stitchbird build their nests in tree cavities which is A hole in a tree caused by animals or rot. The nest is complex. It has a stick base topped with a nest cup of small twigs and lined with fern scales, lichen and spider web
DOC researchers have said that Stichbirds have a fascinating and complex mating system. A female may breed with one male or with several. These arrangements can make looking after the chicks a challenge. They are also the only birds know to sometimes mate face to face

Female in typical 'tail cocked' stance (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stitchbird)
Reason 1
The reason the stitch bird is threatened is because of habitat destruction and modification, The Hihi live in mature forest. When miners and loggers want to cut down the trees for other use like mining for oil or paper then there are no forests for the Hihi to live or trees to nest in, and also their food to live for example bugs and plants have no where to live/grow so then the Hihi cannot eat or nest so then of course they are going to die off.
Reason 2
Another Reason why they are endangered because of their predators. Their predators are the possum, ferret, rat, stoats, cats, dogs and larger birds like owls and eagles. New Zealand never used to have ferrets, stoats, possums, cats or rats but they were bought over by the humans’ way way back when the Europeans discovered New Zealand and the settlers came over by boat. Historians believe that the pests were bought over by the boat and were stow a ways. Then when they were released on to the island of course then the pests would mate and multiply.
It is also believed by scientists that an avian disease brought in to the country by introduced birds led to a sharp decline in the number of stitch birds. Especially in the north island. The reason they believe this is because other bird species (Bell bird, Tui) were affected at the same time.

Possum and rat invade nest (Source: Nga Manu Images)
One way that NZ is making an effort to conserve and look after the species
There is a project to save the stitch bird run by doc called “ Recovery of Hihi” That is being carried out in Little Barrier Island
The Department of Conservation’s Stitch bird (Hihi) Recovery Plan has a long term goal of upping the number of self-sustaining populations of the stitch bird to five.
The main steps towards this include
1. Insure that the Little Barrier population of Hihi is protected
2. Establish secured populations at new sites through a change of location
3. Monitor and boost current populations on managed islands
4. Sustain a small captive population at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center in eastern Wairarapa

Transfer Programs
Science has been very effective. One of the ways is through transfer programs until the 1980’s little barrier island was the only remaining relocation in which the stitch birds were found. Since then there has been a series of transfer programs to other islands such as Kapiti island and Tiri Tiri Matangi. How they catch the birds is the put a net up in parts of the island where the hihi is commonly seen. The net is dark green or black to camouflage into the bush/forest and it goes as height as about four and a half meters. Then the birds that don’t see it fly into it and get trapped into it. After a bit of a while a D.O.C person involved with catching the birds will come and check on the net, Find the bird and then help in out of net. Then the person will help the bird out of the bird out of the net and check under its wings and its neck to make sure they have no mites on them. They put the Hihi in to a dark bag so the bird doesn’t stress out and die. After that They take the bird into a boom with lots of other kinds of Birds that they are trans locating and put the Hihi into a cage and ship it off to another island like Kapiti coast or Tiri Tiri Matangi.
Nesting Boxes
nother way science has been effective is using nesting boxes. A nesting box is a neat little box that is made out of wood and has two plastic see through sides. At the front there is a little semi-circle just big enough to fit the stitch bird but to small for a Tui. They have done this because the tui can get quiet competitive for the nesting box and because the tui are bigger they are more likely to take over the nesting box. There for the Hihi can’t nest as much as they would be able to. Inside the box there are lots of skinny small twigs and leaves, to replace the nest that the Hihi would have made in the cavity of a matured tree. The reason why They have placed these nesting boxes around the place is because on some of the relatively new island that are conservation parks for the birds, all off the trees have not been able mature, there for no cavities in the trees which results in the Hihi not being able to nest.

Hihi Nesting box ( source http://ronorenstein.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/new-zealand-tiritiri-matangi.html )
Evaluation on how effective science and its applications have been in conserving the Stitchbird
Overall science is very efficient and effective at conserving the species. At one point in time (1980’s) the Stitch bird was only found on Little barrier Little Barrier population alone was estimated 6000 after all the cats were removed but it turned out to be 2000. Now it is found on Tiritiri Matangi, Kapiti Island as well as Little barrier. There for they have done extremely well at translocating the Hihi and keeping it alive. If the DOC researchers and Bird specialists had not done anything about this situation thirty odd years ago then the stitch bird would extinct now, or definitely very close to extinction. Now it is estimated minimum of 3000 Hihi in New Zealand.
Cultural & environmental
A positive cultural aspect about saving the Hihi is that the people on the project place traps all over the island for example around the shore of the islands and in the island to prevent the predators killing and eating the stitch bird and its eggs. They place some cheese or a piece of old bread in the trap and the when the rat, stoat etc. takes the bread it will snap down on the animal quicker than you can say go. When it snaps down on to the animal it traps them and kills them with the spikes on the bar that snaps down on them. The bad thing about the traps is that the native birds will go and investigate the trap, and when they see the food they will eat it as well. Then the trap kills them as well. Over all in New Zealand there are 10,000 native birds killed a year by the pest traps.
The good environmental this about the Recovery of Hihi) is that they are planting lots and lots of trees which is really good because with all the deforestation around the world especially in the amazon rainforest. These trees planted on the island are not allowed to be cut down. No trees leads to deforestation which means there is no habitat for animals and native birds which leads to less oxygen less oxygen. So by planting these trees it benefits us and the birds because the less of the trees means there is less/thinner oxygen which means it is harder to breathe. In an extreme case everyone would die, But not likely. It also benefits the Hihi by having place to nest and live.
The bad thing about “The recovery of the Hihi” project plan is that it costs so much money. You have to pay for the nesting boxes, the translocation program, trees to be planted on the island, people to plant the trees and pest traps. Protecting the entire world's threatened species will cost around US$4000, 000,000 a year so that’s $4,891,160,000 in New Zealand Dollars. Overall the world spends about 70,000,000,000 a year on guns, food, training programs, weapons, ammunition, shelter and horses for war. At most a eighth of that could go towards the conservation of birds around the world and could potentially save them all.
The Stitchbird (Hihi) is one of New Zealand’s native endemic birds. It may be small and not seen very often but using the “Hihi Recovery Program” with the translocation programs and the nesting boxes it will be seen more often. The population of Hihi has been increasing significantly it has gone up to around 1000 birds over the past thirty years. I think a way that New Zealand/ DOC researches could improve on conserving the Hihi is finding out what all of the Stitchbirds predators like to eat but what the Hihi don’t like to eat or won’t go near so that when a predator e.g. stoat, cat goes up to the trap and eats the little piece of food it gets killed but the Stitchbird won’t because it won’t touch the pest trap.
A Wandering Naturalist: New Zealand: Tiritiri Matangi. (n.d.). A Wandering Naturalist: New Zealand: Tiritiri Matangi. Retrieved November 16, 2013, from http://ronorenstein.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/new-zealand-tiritiri-matangi.html
Bellbird & Stitchbird at Tiritiri Matangi Island. (2012, November 24). YouTube. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from
Low, M. R. (2004). The behavioral ecology of forced copulation in the New Zealand stitchbird (Hihi): a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Palmerston north: Mathew Richard Low.
Reintroduction Specialist Group. (n.d.). RSG Oceania. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://rsg-oceania.squarespace.com/nz-hihi/
Saving the stitchbird - Massey University. (n.d.). Saving the stitchbird - Massey University. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=saving-the-stitchbird-24-08-2005
Saving the stitchbird - Massey University. (n.d.). Saving the stitchbird - Massey University. Retrieved November 16, 2013, from http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=saving-the-stitchbird-24-08-2005
Site Menu. (n.d.). DOC's work: Stitchbird/hihi. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/stitchbird/docs-work/
Stitch bird (hihi). (n.d.). National red list . Retrieved November 17, 2013, from http://www.nationalredlist.org/files/2012/09/Stitchbird-Hihi.pdf
Stitchbird. (n.d.). - Notiomystis cincta -. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://www.oiseaux.net/birds/stitchbird.html
Stitchbird. (2013, October 25). Wikipedia. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stitchbird
Al-Sa'afin, A. (Director). (2007). Translocation of endangered species [Documentary]. New Zealand: Tiri Matangi.
WHAT EATS BIRDS?. (n.d.). WHAT EATS RSS. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://www.whateats.com/what-eats-birds-2
Welcome to 1080: The Facts. (n.d.). Welcome to 1080: The Facts. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://www.1080facts.co.nz/
Why is the stitchbird endangered?. (n.d.). WikiAnswers. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_is_the_stitchbird_endangered#slide2

APA formatting by BibMe.org.
Here is a video of a Stitchbird going into the feeding box eating sugar water
By Annabella Simmons
Diagram of Hihi (Stitchbird)
Source: http://www.exploringnature.org/db/detail.php?dbID=43&detID=743
Full transcript