The endangered native hihi at Bushy Park Sanctuary have just had one of their better breeding seasons.

Hihi (stitchbirds) were first introduced to the 98ha sanctuary 25km from Whanganui in 2013. Since then the numbers of new chicks fledged have varied from 14 to 48.

In this last season 41 chicks were fledged, up from 27 and 14 in the previous two seasons. Sanctuary manager Mandy Brooke said the better season could have been due to settled weather, with enough rain at intervals.

There are only a few thousand hihi left alive in the world. They are all in seven protected populations in New Zealand, and Bushy Park is one of them. In April last year 10 extra hihi were moved there from Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf - five female and five male, to add genetic diversity.


The 41 chicks fledged this year were from 11 females.

The birds also got new feeders last year, and volunteers stock them with sugar water twice a week.

North Island robins (toutouwai) and saddlebacks (tieke) have also been introduced into the predator-fenced sanctuary.

They have thrived there. An estimated 600 toutouwai live there now, and there were so many tieke that some have been transferred to another nearby sanctuary, Rotokare Scenic Reserve in Taranaki.