A bird with a plant name! How appropriate.

I think given my sporadic posting due to work in the field (no complaints here) I am no longer going to kid myself with rigid nomenclature for grouping posts. What I mean is that I am relaxing the (in fact already have) "Bird of the week" and "Quote of the day" posts. Despite this I will keep up with doing posts along the same lines without the strict time frames.

From here
I begin this new series of "not of the weeks" with a bird one, and given that this week was host to World Wetlands Day a wetland bird seems appropriate, and as the title suggests the bird has a plant name. According to Wikipedia early settlers called it the 'swamp sparrow' due to colouration (see pictured) and its typical habitat, Kōtātā or Mātātā  by maori. It is now commonly called the Fernbird.

 The Fernbrid (Bowdleria punctata) is a monotypic species (i.e. the only species in its genus) in the Locustellidae family although Fernbird collectively refers to a species complex of fives subspecies. Each subspecies is native to a single island or island group: North Island, veleae; South Island, punctata; Stewart Island, stewartiana; Codfish Island, wilsoni and Snares Island, caudata. Despite their widespread distribution Fernbirds numbers are generally quite low. This is due overwhelmingly due to habitat clearance and their relatively high habitat-specificity. As I have already mentioned, Fernbirds inhabit wetlands. Wetlands in New Zealand have declined because they have been cleared for farming particularly in the Waikato and southern regions of the North Island. What habitat that does remain is often in heavily modified pastoral landscapes. Yet, despite this, Fernbirds remain locally common in areas where habitat remains. This is particularly evident in low-fertility manuka mires or pahiki that are not suitable for agriculture. My colleague was fortunate enough to see several Fernbirds this week in just such habitat.

I tweeted today about being in some wetlands on World Wetlands Day but sadly I didn't see any Fernbird. I did possibly (yet to be confirmed) collect a regionally critical plant, Carex fascicularis which is quite 'cool' in a plant-geek way. In fact over the last few months i have been quite lucky to visit several places around the Auckland region looking at pockets of remaining bush, wetland and coastal cliffs and have found quite a few rare/endangered plants. But I think I will save the discussion on my recent escapades for another post.


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