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From Opus

Breeding plumagePhoto © by tf1044xNew Zealand, 16 June 2004
Breeding plumage
Photo © by tf1044x
New Zealand, 16 June 2004
Anarhynchus frontalis


[edit] Identification

Length: 20–21 cm (8-8½")
A small, drab shorebird with white underbody and grey upperparts. Grey eyeline, white supercilliary extending to forehead. Partial (summer) or full (winter, breeding) dark grey collar. Black legs. Most distinctive feature unique among bird species in the world, is the dark, sharp bill that curves to the side.

[edit] Distribution

Endemic to New Zealand: breeds in northern river beds on South Island; winters on North Island.

Population This is a very uncommon bird, with a population of only around 5000 individuals. It can be reliably found during the southern hemisphere winter (May-Aug) at the Miranda Sanctuary at the Firth of Thames, south of Auckland, (North Island).

Non-breeding plumagePhoto © by Joseph MorlanMiranda Shorebird Hide, New Zealand,  13 January 2017
Non-breeding plumage
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Miranda Shorebird Hide, New Zealand, 13 January 2017

[edit] Taxonomy

A monotypic species.

[edit] Habitat

Breeds in fast moving streams and rivers. Winters on coastal mudflats.

[edit] Behaviour

When flushed often return to the same area to continue feeding. Frequently stands on one leg.

[edit] Diet

The bill is specialized to take Mayfly larvae from under rocks in fast moving fresh water streams. On wintering grounds they may forage in the mud in large groups. Their diet includes sandhoppers, mudworms, etc.

[edit] Breeding

Lays late August to late October, with second clutch late October to late December. Monogamous on long-term basis. Solitary; holds vigorously defended territories. The nest is a shallow scrape in the gravel, lined with many small stones. The normal clutch is 2. Incubation is shared and is protracted from 30-36 days. Chicks fledge after 35-40 days. Chicks are guarded by one or both parents during their first 3 weeks becoming increasingly independent before fledging.

[edit] Vocalisations

Most common call is a somewhat Charadrius hiaticula-like weet or peep. Flocks occasionally engage in excited high-pitched 'chattering'.

[edit] References

  1. 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
  2. Dowding, J.E. 2013. Wrybill. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.
  3. Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2, raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  4. Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2017). Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis). 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 on 25 March 2017).

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