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Whitehead - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Ian_M
North Island, New Zealand, December 2004

Alternative name: Popokatea

Mohoua albicilla


15cm (6 in).

  • White head and underparts
  • Contrasting black bill, eye and legs
  • Pale brown upperparts
  • Females and juveniles are similar with crown and nape shaded brown


Probable juvenile
Photo by Raikyn
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, April 2017

Endemic to North Island of New Zealand.
Formerly more widespread but still common in some parts.


This is a monotypic species[1].
Sometimes considered conspecific with Yellowhead.


Native forests, mature pine forests and dense scrubland.



They forage throughout the trees at all levels, gleaning invertebrates, insects and spiders. They also eat some seeds and fruit.

The hold food items in their feet, parrot-like, to feed.


They are monogamous and the pair may have up 6 helpers. They build a cup-shaped nest, into which they lay 2-4 variously coloured - eggs. Incubation takes about 18 days, with fledging a further 16-19 days. Both adults feed the young.

In November/December, their nests are used by Long-tailed Koel; they replace the original clutch with their own single egg.


Resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved April 2017)

Recommended Citation

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