Fun New Zealand Rock Wren Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Amazing New Zealand rock wren for kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

The New Zealand rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris), of the family Acanthisittidae and order Passeriformes, is a small bird residing in New Zealand. They can also be found in Fiordland. It is called the South Island wren to differentiate between them and the North American rock wren. They are currently restricted in the alpine and sub-alpine regions of the South Island. Their fossilized remains show that earlier they used to live on the North Island. The rock wren is a small bird with various colors on its body and is highly terrestrial.

Only two New Zealand wren species are left and these are the rock wrens and the rifleman. Their closest relatives are the bush wren and the stout-legged wrens. These birds are predators and feed mostly on insects (especially moths, moth larvae, flies, beetles, scale insects) and spiders, and also fruit. The New Zealand rock wren's range shrunk due to introduced predators, mostly stoats and mice. Their call is very high-pitched and they are also found in Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook National Park.

If you want to learn more about birds, you can also check out our palm warbler facts and American pipit facts.

New Zealand Rock Wren Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a New Zealand rock wren?

The South Island wren is a type of bird found on New Zealand's South Island. Many species of this bird went near extinct because of the arrival and settlement of humans, but still, some of them are left in Stephens Island on Cook Strait.

What class of animal does a New Zealand rock wren belong to?

The New Zealand rock wren belongs to the Aves class and phylum Chordata. These birds are poor fliers and can not fly at great heights. Their neighbors, the rifleman, and the females are bigger than the males. They usually do not migrate and face problems due to climate change.

How many New Zealand rock wrens are there in the world?

The total population of New Zealand rock wrens present around the world is unknown as these are threatened species. Years ago, in 2010, around 40 rocks were found on secretary Island, which is an 8140 ha rodent-free island in Fiordland. Conservation efforts help them to get protection from wildlife reserves.

Where does a New Zealand rock wren live?

The New Zealand rock wren resides in a range of habitats, including the Southern Alps of the Southern Island. Though they are restricted to sub-alpine and alpine areas, still these birds are truly alpine birds. They are also found at Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook National Park. These birds are localized to the Eyre Mountains and are present in some parts of the world, like Canterbury and Victoria Range.

What is a New Zealand rock wren's habitat?

A New Zealand rock wren's habitat consists of the alpine zone and habitats including treelines, amongst rockfalls, scree, fellfield, and low scrub. These birds were successfully transported to Secretary Island. Their habitat also includes farmlands, woodlands, heathland, moorland, and many more. They do not migrate in winter like other New Zealand birds.

Who do New Zealand rock wrens live with?

They live with the smallest bird of New Zealand, the forest rifleman, its closest relative. They are also found in low canyons to high mountains and during winter.

How long does a New Zealand rock wren live?

These birds generally live for about five years. They have a widespread distribution in the north and south in certain regions. However, their population distribution is decreasing in certain parts of the islands.

How do they reproduce?

New Zealand rock wren's breeding is known to be monogamous. Females lay around three to six white eggs in the rock wren nest at 48 hours intervals and the incubation period is of 19-20 days. Both sexes cooperate in building their nests, breeding, feeding and taking care of young rock wrens. The breeding season of rock wrens occurs around spring and summer and eggs are laid from December to February. Rock wren nests are usually made at ground level within a natural cavity. The clutch size is 3-6 eggs in one breeding season. New Zealand rock wren eggs are incubated by the parents and take care of the juvenile.

What is their conservation status?

New Zealand wrens are an Endangered species. The main threats to these birds were weasels and rats, which eat their eggs. A large number of wren nests have been attacked by stoats, predators trapping the daily survival in hatching the eggs and will allow rats to move higher into the mountains. In 2010, research indicated 12 unbanded rock wrens were successfully bred. Their conservation status is Endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

New Zealand Rock Wren Fun Facts

What do New Zealand rock wrens look like?

New Zealand rock wrens have an olive-green and black body.

The New Zealand rock wren is very tiny with yellow flanks and feathers all over its body and has comparatively long legs and toes with rounded wings. The female New Zealand rock wren has a slight brown coloration. The males are gray-brown below, with yellow flanks and a dull green above their body. These birds are quite cute to look at and have adorable behavior which is harmless to any living being.

How cute are they?

These tiny birds with rounded wings, bright yellow flanks, and extra-long legs are pretty cute and adorable.

How do they communicate?

They have a three-time high-pitched note to call members of their family or to sing. They communicate by making calls and singing songs.

How big is a New Zealand rock wren?

The total body length of a New Zealand rock wren is between 2.7-3.93 in (7-10 cm), which is three times smaller than a Eurasian tree sparrow.

How fast can a New Zealand rock wren fly?

The New Zealand rock wren's flight is very poor and they can not fly more than 6.5 ft (2 m) from ground level or cover a distance of more than 98.4 ft (30 m). It mostly prefers hopping and running with distinctive bobbing. They do not migrate in the winter like other New Zealand birds.

How much does a New Zealand rock wren weigh?

The New Zealand rock wren generally weigh between 0.5-0.8 oz (14.1-22.6 g). They are 5 times heavier and bigger than the Black-chinned sparrow.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no particular names for the male or female New Zealand rock wren birds.

What would you call a baby New Zealand rock wren?

A baby New Zealand rock wren is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

They feed on insects (especially moths, moth larvae, flies, beetles, and scale insects) and spiders and fruits from Gaultheria and Coprosma spp. Stoats and mice are the predator or threat to their eggs because they eat them. They sometimes also intake food like seeds, berries, and nectar from flax flowers.

Are they dangerous?

They may be a little aggressive among themselves, but they do not pose any harm or threat to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

They are usually not kept as pets as their population is decreasing and they need open areas in which to live a happy life.

Did you know...

The New Zealand rock wren's name was discovered by Michelsen Heath in the Murchison mountains. Guthrie Smith found 791 feathers once in 1930 from one of the nests and most of the feathers were from kiwis, kakapos, keas, and kereus.

In 2019 the Department of Conservation (DOC) started monitoring the results on how populations respond to predator control in Kahurangi National Park. Their range is very limited and their conservation status is Endangered.

Why is the Rock Wren endangered?

Daily survival rates were improved by predator trapping, egg hatching, and fledgling rates of rock wrens.

What role does the New Zealand rock wren play in the ecosystem?

Wrens play a crucial role in the ecosystem as they serve as food for other predators and also because they feed on insects.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our mountain chickadee facts and canyon wren facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable rock wren coloring pages.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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