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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 11:18 EDT

New Zealand Bellbird

The New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura), is a passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. The Bellbird is found throughout both the main islands of New Zealand apart from the north of the North Island. Its population and distribution had been seriously affected by the introduction of European-style farming, which has led to the removal of native forests (the natural habitat of the Bellbird).

Another important factor is the introduction of predatory species such as cats, weasels, stoats, ferrets, rats and food-robbing species like wasps. Predators either eat the birds or consume eggs, while food robbers compete with the Bellbird for its natural food sources of nectar, honeydew and insects. The decline occurred around the same time as many other New Zealand species, but for unknown reasons was reversed and the species is still common across much of New Zealand.

It has greenish coloration and is the only living member of the genus Anthornis. The Bellbird forms a significant component of the famed New Zealand dawn chorus of bird song that was much noted by early European settlers. It has a bell-like song which is sometimes confused with that of the Tui.

New Zealand Bellbird