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Birds of the Alpine

ROCK WRENS

Although the Rock Wren is the only true alpine bird in New Zealand, both the pipit and kea spend time amongst the higher basins and rocky ridges. For the pipit, the alpine zone is the highest of a wide range of habitats. Kea are not that common on the tops but are highly conspicuous.

Rock Wrens are very secretive, not just because of their small size and remote habitat, but also because of their ground-feeding habits and limited flight. Bobbing vigorously, they feed on insects, fruit, alpine plants and have a three-note call and thin pipe. A globular nest of moss and lichen, lined with feathers, is built in a crevice and 1-5 white eggs are laid. Both parents feed the young. In winter they appear to vanish altogether, but probably live in rock crevices under vegetation or an insulating cover of snow.

Wrens frequent open rock and talus slopes at altitudes of 750-2,500 m. The best place to see wrens in Arthurs Pass is in the Temple Basin area. The last confirmed sighting was about 15 minutes walk up the Temple Basin track from the car park. They were seen on the terrace where the concrete seat is and the four-wheel drive track changes to the walking track. Good luck!

CHECKLIST

Kea
Kea
NZ Falcon
NZ Falcon
NZ Pipit
NZ Pipit
Rockwren
Rockwren

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