Family New Zealand Wrens (Acanthisittidae)

Least Concern

Rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris)


French: Xénique grimpeur German: Grünstummelschwanz Spanish: Acantisita verdoso

Sitta chloris


, 1787,

“Cape of Good Hope”; error = Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand


Morphological differences between races are minor and poorly understood; further study needed. Supposedly larger, more yellowish birds in SW of range (Fiordland) described as race citrina, but considered indistinguishable from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. granti Mathews & Iredale, 1913 – North I and outliers, New Zealand.
  • A. c. chloris (Sparrman, 1787) – South I, Stewart I and outliers.
  • Descriptive notes

    7–9 cm; male c. 6 g, female 7 g. Tiny greenish passerine with short rounded wings, very short tail, pale supercilium, and fine, slightly upturned bill. Male is bright... read more


    Calls simple, mostly faint, sharp and high-pitched; main call a squeaky repetitive “zipt... read more


    Forest, especially beech (Nothofagus) forest, and scrub; also pine (Pinus)... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly insectivorous. Diet includes wide variety of small arthropods, especially coleopterans, including weevils (Curculionidae),... read more


    Season Aug–Feb; 2 broods. Monogamous; long-term pair-bond. Often breeds co-operatively, with helpers; helpers at first brood usually... read more


    Resident. Probably sedentary; possibly some short local movement, possibly also a degree of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in suitable habitats. Recorded densities include 2·2–3·4 birds/ha and 9–15 breeding pairs in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gill, B. (2020). Rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris). 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 February 2020).