May 25
Chatham Island black robin  (Petroica traversi)

Chatham Island black robin (Petroica traversi)

Species: Chatham Island black robin (Petroica traversi)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Chatham Island black robin was brought back from the brink of extinction - in 1980 there was only 5 left in existence, but today there are more than 250!

The Chatham Island black robin was previously found throughout the Chatham Islands, a group of islands 850 km east of New Zealand. It now only exists on two of these islands: Mangere and Rangatira Island. The Chatham Island black robin typically lives for 4 years, and pairs will generally mate for life, producing 2 eggs per year.

Black robins can mostly be seen in lower branches of the forest, or foraging for invertebrates amongst leaf litter on the forest floor. This behaviour left the birds vulnerable to predation when mammalian predators such as cats and rats were introduced to the islands. The species eventually became extinct on all but one island. An intensive conservation programme began in the 1970s, where the tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) was used to cross-foster black robin eggs from the remaining breeding pair. This was a resounding success and there are now two thriving populations, as well as plans to introduce a population to the much larger Pitt Island.

Find out more about the Chatham Island black robin on the New Zealand Department of Conservation website.

See images and videos of the Chatham Island black robin on ARKive.

  • Dinah Morris (June 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 am):

    This story of rescuing a species from the brink of extinction is so inspiring. It’s not over til it’s over and no matter how large or small, every species beautifies our planet. If only a breeding pair could have saved the dodo, or huia or great auk, or Haast’s eagle, or moa or….

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