Fun Wrybill Facts For Kids

Anamika Balouria
Oct 20, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Wrybill facts about the bird with a tilted bill.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

The wrybill, Anarhynchus frontalis, is a small, beautiful bird found in breeding rivers and coastal areas. This species was first described by French naturalists, Jean Rene Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard, in 1830. During the breeding season, they are mostly found near the braided rivers of the South Island, whereas, later on, they migrate to the coastal areas of the North Island.

These birds are the only birds in the world that have a tilted, uneven black bill which helps them to eat insects and small fish under the large rocks. They are gray, black, and white in color. The male and female birds can easily be identified because sexual dimorphism exists in them. They can survive for up to 10 years and are mostly endemic in New Zealand. They feed on larvae, small fish, and invertebrates.

Wrybills use different voices to communicate with their own species. Their survival rate and population are decreasing because there are many disturbances in their natural habitat and predators which make it difficult to live. They have been listed under Threatened Species as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

If you enjoy reading this bird article, then do learn some surprising and interesting fun facts about other birds like the pileated woodpecker and the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Wrybill Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wrybill?

The wrybill, Anarhynchus frontalis, is a small, beautiful, monogamous plover bird species that is also named ngutuparore. The wrybills are the only species of birds that have a tilted uneven bill turned to the right. They have many close plover relatives that can be found in New Zealand.  

What class of animal does a wrybill belong to?

The wrybill belongs to the class of Aves and the family Charadriidae. They are known by the scientific name Anarhynchus frontalis and belong to the genus Anarhynchus.

How many wrybills are there in the world?

The wrybill is endemic to New Zealand and Vulnerable in the North and South Islands. The global population status of this bird species according to the IUCN is 4500-5000.

Where does a wrybill live?

The wrybills are native to the southeastern countries of Australia. Before, they were also evident in New Zealand, but now they are almost endemic to the place. They are mostly seen on the North and South Island. During the breeding season, they are spotted on the braided rivers of Canterbury and Otago, and later migrate in flocks to the coastal areas of the North Island, such as the Firth of Thames, Kaipara, Tauranga, and Manukau Harbor.

What is a wrybill's habitat?

The wrybill habitat is large and extends from the North Island to the South Island. They have a habit of living on wintering grounds near the braided rivers Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki, and Ashley. Throughout their lives, their habitat changes as they are migratory birds. They can be seen near freshwater, terrestrial (grassland or savanna), and temperate regions. During the breeding season, they are surrounded by exotic vegetation such as lupines, willows, and gorse. They are even found near estuaries. After migration, they generally stay along the coastline areas and build mudflats during the non-breeding season.

Who do wrybills live with?

The wrybill is monogamous and lives in pairs. As they are migratory birds, they fly in large flocks during the migration period. They can even be seen in flocks during the non-breeding season, whereas, during the breeding season they are very dominating and territorial. They minimally lay two eggs in one season. In exceptional cases, they lay two more eggs if their first clutch of eggs is destroyed by predators or flooding.

How long does a wrybill live?

The wrybill can live as long as 5-10 years if kept under good environmental conditions. In several cases, adults have even lived longer than expected.

How do they reproduce?

The wrybills are monogamous and mate accordingly during the breeding season. They are very dominating when mating with their female counterparts, as well as, regarding the territories where they will breed. They generally breed during the spring, from late August to December. They build one or two nests among the river stones and enclose them with small stones along the riverbed.

A minimum of two eggs is laid once a year. The eggs are camouflaged and appear to be like stone and thus are saved from predators' eyes. Once the eggs are laid, both the male and female incubate the eggs for 30-36 days until they are hatched. The newborn chick is attended by both parents during the fledging period of 35 days. They start breeding when they are two years old.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, the wrybill's conservation status is among Threatened Species and are listed as Vulnerable in their natural habitat. They are endemic to New Zealand but suffer due to their habitat loss. Their global population is now only 4500-5000 which is a major cause of concern.

Wrybill Fun Facts

What do wrybills look like?

The wrybill, Anarhynchus frontalis, is a small, beautiful, sexually dimorphic species of bird. These plover birds’ feathers are gray, white with black marks on their body. The male has a white forehead, throat, and belly with a thin black line across the breast, whereas, this black line is thinner in the female. The rest of their body parts are light gray in color. The male wrybills have a black band mark between their white forehead and gray crown, which is not evident in females. The black line band mark is also only evident during the breeding season, otherwise, there are no such distinguishing features of the male.

The most noticeable distinguishing feature of these birds is their tilted bill. The long black bill is turned towards the right and is disproportionate. This disproportionate black bill makes them different from other birds. The eggs are laid camouflaged like stones, light gray in color with small light brown spots. The newborn chicks are gray on the upper body with black spots and white on the lower body.

Wrybills breed near braided rivers.

How cute are they?

The wrybills are very cute little gray-white bird species. They might not be that colorful to be cute, but their site can really make you happy with the thought of a small little creature.

How do they communicate?

The wrybill, Anarhynchus frontalis, uses different voices in different contexts in order to communicate. The voice of the chip is to alert the other birds regarding the danger. The voice of churring is to chase away the other banded dotterel, whereas, a very calm grating voice is used to communicate with their chicks. The chicks have a high pitch with a short peep voice.

How big is a wrybill?

The wrybills are small plovers with a size of about 8 in (21 cm) long. They are smaller than the American golden plover. The American golden plovers are 9.5-11 in (24-28 cm) long.

How fast can a wrybill move?

There is no specific record of how fast these wrybill plover birds fly, but as the wrybill are migratory birds, they might fly at a faster speed and travel long distances.

How much does a wrybill weigh?

The wrybills are small birds with a weight of 1.5-2.5 oz (43-71 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female wrybill species.

What would you call a baby wrybill?

The baby wrybills are called chicks when they are newly hatched from their eggs.

What do they eat?

The wrybills are carnivores and insectivores. They eat insects, small fish, and invertebrates from the breeding rivers. They are able to easily eat these small insects with the help of their curved bills. The curved bill to the right goes down under the stones where most insects and larvae can be found. The wrybill diet consists of food like caddisflies, mayflies, worms, and others.

Are they dangerous?

No, the wrybill is not at all dangerous, but it is very aggressive and territorial about its territory during the breeding season. It chases away the intruders in order to avoid threats.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the wrybill would make a good pet because of its harmless nature toward humans. However, the wrybill adaptations are such that they cannot survive for long under human captivity.

Did you know...

According to one of the studies, it was found that these species are among the Charadrius class and are close relatives to the other plover communities of New Zealand. The closest among all are the New Zealand dotterel (Charadrius obscurus) and the Banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus).

The breeding season is more evident with threats of flooding, human disturbance, and predators such as ferrets, hedgehogs, and stoats. These species sometimes build two nests if their first clutch of eggs is destroyed because of any of the threats above.

Their population is decreasing by 10% every five years.

The wrybill range map

They have a large range from the South Island braided rivers to the North Island coastal areas. From the month of late August to December, they can be seen on the South Island, whereas, from January to July they can be seen in coastal harbor areas. The wrybill migration widens their range map.

Is the wrybill native to New Zealand?

The wrybills are endemic to New Zealand, but due to disturbances in their natural environment and predators, which are the main causes of concern among all the other threats, they are vulnerable. The habitat loss of this species is leading to a decline in their population.

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 roseate spoonbill interesting facts and shoebill fun facts for kids.

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

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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