Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

New Zealand Fernbird (Poodytes punctatus)


French: Mégalure matata German: Farnsänger Spanish: Yerbera maorí

Synallaxis punctata

Quoy and Gaimard

, 1830,

South Island, New Zealand


Previously placed in Megalurus; alternatively, often placed in monospecific Bowdleria, a treatment supported by certain anatomical features#R, but data derived from DNA-DNA hybridization suggest that it is closely related to Cincloramphus timoriensis and, especially, P. gramineus; further research required. Previously considered to include P. caudatus and †P. rufescens (see both). Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. vealeae (Kemp, 1912) – North I, in New Zealand.
  • P. p. punctatus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) – South I, in New Zealand.
  • P. p. stewartianus (Oliver, 1930) – Stewart I.
  • P. p. wilsoni (Stead, 1936) – Codfish I (off NW Stewart I).
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; 23–25·3 g (nominate), mean 18 g (vealeae), 26·8 g (wilsoni). A secretive, almost uniformly brown and boldly streaked, small... read more


    Song an insignificant little warble, not often heard. Usually proclaims presence with sharp “... read more


    Variety of shrubby and grassy habitats, with dense shrublands and rushlands, from sea-level up to... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food almost entirely small invertebrates, including crustaceans, spiders (Araneae), and wide variety of insects and their larvae, notably... read more


    Nesting chiefly Aug–Mar over most of range, including Stewart I and Codfish I, mainland populations rearing two or three broods.... read more


    Chiefly resident. Juveniles disperse far from hatching sites in search of own breeding territories... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Nationally, the different populations are assessed as follows: race vealeae (At Risk/ Declining); nominate (At Risk/... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). New Zealand Fernbird (Poodytes punctatus). 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 22 March 2019).