Bushwren – It Was Very Good

Bushwren, John Gerrard Keulemans, 1888

Bushwren (Xenicus longipes)

They are at least as active, however, on their legs as on their wings. The hop of the bush wren is a remarkable performance. During the first salutary movement the bush wren carries himself parallel to the earth; at the termination, however, of each leap he telescopes upwards on his toes, momentarily erecting himself in the oddest way to his full height. When the two movements are blended in rapid action, what with his whitish feet, short toes and long thin legs, and tightly folded body plumage, he resembles in no small degree a barefooted bairn running on sands with tucked-up garments firmly fastened around the waist. He passes through the darkling underscrub like a forest gnome, like a woodland brownie.

~Guthrie-Smith, Bird Life on Island and Shore, 1925

The New Zealand Bushwrens were a group of nearly flightless wrens, consisting of three subspecies, endemic to the three islands that make up New Zealand. The birds were small (about 3.5 inches in length and 16 grams.) with bodies that were mostly covered in yellow feathers with dark green to purple feathers covering their faces.


The Bushwren was driven to extinction due to the introduction of invasive species to New Zealand. Rats, Mustelids (ferrets and martens), and felines all decimated the population which had no history of mammalian predators. The last members of the species were died in the 1970s after a failed attempt to preserve them by moving them to a small island uninhabited by the invasive species.

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