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Breeding biology of bellbirds ( Anthornis melanura ) on Tiritiri Matangi Island

  • Publication Type

    Journal Article

  • Publication Year


  • Author(s)

    S.H. Anderson; J.L. Craig

  • Journal Name


  • Volume, Issue

    50, 2

  • Pagination


  • Article Type



Anthornis melanura; Bellbird; breeding biology; population dynamics; reproductive success; Tiritiri Matangi Island

Breeding biology of bellbirds ( Anthornis melanura ) on Tiritiri Matangi Island

Notornis, 50 (2), 75-82

S.H. Anderson; J.L. Craig (2003)

Article Type: paper



Bellbird breeding activity was monitored on Tiritiri Matangi Is in 1977 and 1978. The density of bellbirds breeding within the study area was 2.13 pairs ha-1. Resighting of banded adult birds in consecutive years was 69% and less than half the pair bonds were maintained into the following season. Breeding extended from Oct to Jan, with a peak in Nov. Most nests were built in tree ferns, and the mean clutch size was 3.6 eggs. Incubation and nestling periods were c. 12 and 14 days, respectively. The female bellbird was significantly more active than the male in care of the nestlings. Measurements of chick head and wing length were correlated with age. Nest success was 44%, and daily survival rate 97%. Predation, desertion, and exposure contributed to nest failure, and re-nesting was common. The mean number of nests female-1 season-1 was 1.3, while mean reproductive success was 2 chicks fledged. Young were independent 2 weeks after fledging, and moulted to adult plumage in their 1st year. The dynamics of the Tiritiri Matangi population, when compared with other populations, suggest that breeding behaviour is a flexible response to environmental factors, and will vary between populations depending on the level of predation, competition and habitat quality.