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Mohouidae – Whiteheads

Whitehead in New Zealand: Photo by J. J. Harrison

The Mohouidae family consists of small songbirds endemic to New Zealand. These birds, known for their lively presence, inhabit forests and scrublands. With only three species — Whitehead, Yellowhead, and Pipipi — they are notable for their cooperative breeding behavior and complex social structures.

Overview of Mohouidae

These energetic small songbirds flit about forest and scrub habitats, often in groups and sometimes hanging upside down while searching for insect prey. Recent molecular analyses have highlighted their distinctive and ancient ancestry. Two of the three species are cooperative breeders, a common trait among birds in the region. Endemic to New Zealand, mohouids have faced challenges as sole hosts to an endemic brood-parasitic cuckoo. However, their populations have dramatically declined due to habitat loss and predation by introduced stoats and rats.