Family New Zealand Wattlebirds (Callaeidae)

Near Threatened

North Island Saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater)


French: Créadion de Lesson German: Nordinsel-Sattelvogel Spanish: Tieke de Isla Norte

Icterus rufusater


, 1828,

Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand


Often treated as conspecific with P. carunculatus, but differs in its narrow yellow band across mantle (2); slightly smaller size based on published data#R (1); and vocalizations, with distinct difference in pace (3) and note shape (1) of the chatter song#R; also in lacking a distinct juvenile plumage. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

New Zealand, on North I (Hen I and translocated populations to other islands off N coast, and Kapiti I, off S coast; also attempted establishment of several populations within fenced mainland sites on North I).

Descriptive notes

25 cm; 61–94 g, male average 80 g, female average 70 g. Medium-sized passerine with strong slightly downcurved bill, long tail with rounded tip and distinctive downward... read more


Noisy and boisterous. Song is commonest vocalization, given throughout year, a loud repetitive... read more


Majority of islands where this species now present are sites to which it has been translocated. At... read more

Food and feeding

Food mainly invertebrates and berries, occasionally nectar. Nestling diet apparently richer in invertebrates. Generally forages in pairs,... read more


Timing and frequency appear dependent on density, generally breeding in spring and summer, with early-autumn records only when food... read more


Adults sedentary and territorial all year. Juvenile dispersal generally less than 3 km.... read more

Status and conservation

Not assessed. Probably Near Threatened. When treated as conspecific with P. carunculatus, the enlarged species is considered Near Threatened. Confined to islands off... read more

Recommended citation

Scofield, P. & Christie, D.A. (2019). North Island Saddleback (Philesturnus rufusater). 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 October 2019).