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The foraging behaviour of the South Island robin

  • Publication Type

    Journal Article

  • Publication Year


  • Author(s)

    Powlesland, R.G.

  • Journal Name


  • Volume, Issue

    28, 2

  • Pagination


  • Article Type



South Island robin, Petroica australis, foraging behaviour, diet

The foraging behaviour of the South Island robin

Notornis, 28 (2), 89-102

Powlesland, R.G. (1981)

Article Type: Paper



The foraging behaviour of the South Island Robin (Petroica australis australis) was studied at Kowhai Bush, Kaikoura, from August 1976 to July 1978. Robins spent 90% of their foraging time on and within two metres of the ground. They spent 61.3% of their foraging time gleaning on the ground, 33.8% scanning, 4.5% gleaning amongst vegetation, 0.3% hawking and 0.1% flycatching. The proportion of foraging time devoted to the various foraging methods differed between adult and immature robins. The diurnal patterns of ground gleaning, scanning and above-ground gleaning for adults in the breeding and non-breeding seasons, and for immatures in the non-breeding season are described. Most foraging time was spent searching (93.7%), the rest killing, dismembering and eating prey. Robins relied largely on sight to find prey, but also seemed to stimulate prey movement by foot-trembling and tail- and wing-flicking. Most movements of foraging robins were hops and steps (88%), the rest being flights. About 8% of foraging time was spent flying. The robin’s diet consisted of invertebrates, except in summer and autumn when some berries were taken.