The tuke / rock wren is a small, reclusive alpine bird, found along the Southern Alps and Kahurangi National Park. It has a very high pitched call that not everyone can hear.
Of the half dozen New Zealand wrens known to have existed, all but two are extinct – only the tuke / rock wren and the rifleman / titipounamu still exist.
They live above the tree line and it’s unknown how they survive the harsh climate all year round, but it’s likely they forage on rocky bluffs where snow has not collected in winter and among large boulder fields.
Males are more vibrant, and the female is a paler brown. They are poor fliers, and their habit of nesting in holes on the ground makes them easy prey for stoats. They can become extinct quite quickly, site by site.
It is thought climate change will affect rock wrens in the future. As temperatures warm, they may encounter potential predators higher in the mountains.
Photos : Jemma Welch, Chad Cottle, Dean Nelson