It’s that time of year where I complain about the Austral winter, which arrived suddenly yesterday and has been inflicting gales, thunderstorms and tornadoes on New Zealand. To celebrate I’m off to Melbourne on Friday, were the weather promises to be more pleasant, for a long weekend. While the purpose of the trip is mostly to see family and friends and perhaps mark the occasion of another mostly successful passage around the sun, I will be getting a few hours of birding in here and there. One of my targets is my lifer Red-capped Robin, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to show off some shots I recently got of a New Zealand species of the same family, the South Island Robin. (Incidentally, I feel I should win some kind of award for the most tangential introduction to a post I have ever written on this site. It was all over the place!)

SI Robin

A South Island Robin (Petroica australis) sporting some scientific bling.

Anyway, the South Island Robin is a member of the Petroicidae, an Australasian family that isn’t remotely related to the American Robin or the European one, but is named for their similarity in shape to the latter. The South Island Robin was once lumped with the North Island Robin as the New Zealand Robin, but differences in plumage mean most but not all authorities split the two species.


I photographed these at a birdbath, but the species is very confiding everywhere.

South Island RobinA different individual. These birds had been translocated, hence the banding.


is it food?Inspecting potential food

si robin feedingTastes like food

all goneAll gone! Was food!

Written by Duncan
Duncan Wright is a Wellington-based ornithologist working on the evolution of New Zealand's birds. He's previously poked albatrosses with sticks in Hawaii, provided target practice for gulls in California, chased monkeys up and down hills Uganda, wrestled sharks in the Bahamas and played God with grasshopper genetics in Namibia. He came into studying birds rather later in life, and could quit any time he wants to.