- Philesturnus rufusater
Length: 25cm (9¾")
- Glossy black plumage
- Prominent dark orange or red-brown saddle from mantle to rump, edged with narrow yellowish band
- Slightly darker lores, giving impression of mask
- Red wattles extend from gape over malar area down to throat
- Black-brown eye, black eyering
- Strong, black slightly downcurved bill
Sexes similar, males are slightly larger. Juveniles are similar to adults but lack pale border to the rusty back.
 Similar Species
South Island Saddleback is similar but lacks the buff line at the top of the saddle and has a distinctly different juvenile plumage which is chocolate-brown and has smaller wattles.
Endemic to North Island New Zealand and adjacent islands. Extinct in most of its original range and now confined to small protected areas and some rat-free offshore islands.
This is a monotypic species.
Formerly considered conspecific with South Island Saddleback. Both previously been placed in genus Creadion.
Native forest. Most populations live now in areas where they have been translocated.
A sedentary species.
Feeds on invertebrates and berries, takes sometimes nectar. It tears pieces of bark from tree trunks to find insects beneath, they will also feed on the ground in leaf litter.
Breeding depends on food availability, may breed three times or more in a good year. The nest is a medium-sized cup made of twigs and bound together with moss or lichens. It's placed in a hole or cavity in a trunk, sometimes on the ground in a rock crevice or among dense epiphytes. Lays 1-4 eggs.
Noisy and boisterous. Song is commonest vocalization, given throughout year, a loud repetitive cheet, te-te-te-te often described as sounding like an engine turning over.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
- BirdLife International. 2016. Philesturnus rufusater. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T103730503A104102989. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T103730503A104102989.en. Downloaded on 17 March 2017
- Higgins,P.J.; Peter, J.M.; Cowling, S.J. (eds.) 2006. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 7, boatbill to starlings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
- Parker, K.A. 2013. North Island saddleback. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
- Scofield, P. & Christie, D.A. (2017). North Island Saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/60598 on 17 March 2017).
- Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc. 2010. Saddleback - Tiritiri Matangi Project. http://www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz/saddleback. Downloaded on 17 March 2017
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