Family Mohouas (Mohouidae)

Least Concern

Whitehead (Mohoua albicilla)


French: Mohoua à tête blanche German: Weißköpfchen Spanish: Mohoua cabeciblanca

Fringilla albicilla


, 1830,

Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand


Sister to M. ochrocephala, based on genetic study#R; sometimes treated as conspecific. Monotypic.


New Zealand: North I (S of Mt Pirongia and Te Aroha, including Mt Egmont and axial mountain system from East Cape S to Cook Strait), Little Barrier I and Kapiti I.

Descriptive notes

15 cm; male 18 g, female 15 g. Male has head and neck off-white, hindneck occasionally with faint grey-brown wash, upperparts cold brown, uppertail-coverts somewhat darker;... read more


Song a descending bell-like trill with 3 “viu” notes and then 3–4 or more “... read more


Native forest and dense scrub, usually large tracts, occasionally small isolated patches, also... read more

Food and feeding

Invertebrates, mainly insects, some spiders (Araneae); also seeds and fruit. Forages at all vegetation levels. In native vegetation (Little... read more


Eggs usually in Oct–Dec; sometimes two broods. Monogamous; breeds as pair, often with up to six helpers. Territorial when breeding.... read more


Largely sedentary; some local movements possible, but apparent absence may reflect seasonal changes... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Restrictedrange species: present in North Island of New Zealand EBA. On North I, now in moderate numbers only in forested areas S of Mt Pirongia and... read more

Recommended citation

Boles, W. (2019). Whitehead (Mohoua albicilla). 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 23 March 2019).