Family New Zealand Wrens (Acanthisittidae)


Bushwren (Xenicus longipes)


French: Xénique des buissons German: Waldstummelschwanz Spanish: Acantisita de matorral
Other common names: Green Wren, North Island Bushwren (stokesii), South Island Bushwren (longipes), Stewart Island Bushwren, Stead’s Bushwren (variabilis)

Motacilla longipes

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand


Race †stokesii known only from three museum skins and a few sightings. Identity of race that occurred on Stewart I uncertain but assumed to be †variabilis, which was described from offshore islets. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • X. l. stokesii G. R. Gray, 1862 – North I, New Zealand.
  • X. l. longipes (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – South I.
  • X. l. variabilis Stead, 1936 – Stewart I and outliers.
  • Extinction thought to have been caused by introduced predators, to which, as a ground-nester, it was particularly vulnerable. North I race †stokesii last seen in 1955. Nominate race in South I was once common, but populations declined rapidly after Europeans arrived; by 1950s had become extremely rare, and last sighting was in 1968. Race †variabilis was common on Stewart I and, especially, its satellite islands in 1930s, but was last recorded on Stewart I in 1950; by 1960s persisted only on offshore islet of Big South Cape I, but arrival on island of rats in 1962 led to rapid decline, with last confirmed record in August 1964. Six birds had earlier been translocated from Big South Cape I to nearby rat-free Kaimohu I; two were seen on Kaimohu in 1967 and 1972, but none has been reported subsequently.

    Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 16 g. Small greenish passerine with rounded wings, very short tail, pale supercilium, long legs and fine bill. Nominate race somewhat variable, has top of head... read more


    Little known; faint trills and rasping calls.


    Beech (Nothofagus) forest, podocarp-broadleaf forest, and coastal forest and scrub. Mostly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very poorly known; predominantly insectivorous, taking wide variety of small arthropods, mostly coleopterans. Invertebrates gleaned mainly... read more


    Almost unknown. Laying Nov–Dec. Nest a ball of fern leaves and rootlets, lined with feathers, one nest of nominate race pouch-shaped... read more



    Status and conservation

    EXTINCT. Formerly occurred throughout New Zealand, but declined following human settlement and the introduction of terrestrial predators. North I race stokesii last... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gill, B. (2019). Bushwren (Xenicus longipes). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 May 2019).