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Wrybill | ngutupare

Status: Recovering


Wrybill  | ngutupare breed on large braided rivers in central South Island from August-January. They prefer large dynamic rivers that will not become overgrown with weeds. Once prevalent on smaller rivers, the wrybill’s range as contracted to about 60% of its estimated original habitat (distribution map).

The wrybill or ngutuparore (Māori) Anarhynchus frontalis is a species of plover endemic to New Zealand. It is unique in that it is the only species of bird in the world with an asymmetrically bent bill, which it uses to dig around river stones for freshwater invertebrates. 

Measuring 20–21cm long and weighing between 43–71gm, the wrybill is slightly sexually dimorphic. The most distinctive feature of the bird is the long black bill, which is always curved to the right.

Their eggs are blue-grey and lightly speckled, making them well camouflaged against river stones and pebbles, which generally make up the main structure of a very simple nest.

Nests are well camouflaged unless you get up close.
Nests are well camouflaged unless you get up close.

Conservation activities

Wrybill gathering at Kaitorete Spit after migrating from winter feeding grounds in the North Island –  image: Steve Attwood