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Figure 12.11: Change in distribution of the mōhua

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Mōhua (Mohoua ochrocephala)

Photo of a mōhua.

Small, insectivorous forest birds, mōhua are members of the genus that includes the whitehead and brown creeper. They nest in holes, usually high in beech trees, and are a host of the long-tailed cuckoo.

Mōhua are found only in the South Island forests. In the 1800s, they were one of the most abundant and conspicuous forest birds, inhabiting all forest types across the South Island and Stewart Island. Deforestation and the introduction of mammalian predators caused their decline, and the population has declined by 90 per cent since European settlement. The mōhua is currently classified as nationally endangered.

The management of the species is guided by a recovery plan that includes controlling rats and stoats following beech masts (these are the infrequent fruiting events of native beech trees). Mōhua have been introduced to several predator-free inlands, where their numbers have increased rapidly.

Data source: Department of Conservation. Photo: Michael Eckstaedt.

Text description of figure

This figure shows the distribution of the mōhua on a map of New Zealand: Its estimated pre-human distribution, during the 1970s and current distribution. It shows that its range has contracted and it now occupies about 5 per cent of its original range.