Worldwide Species Action Plans
The Mohua (or yellowhead, Mohoua ochrocephala) is a small, insectivorous, forest passerine bird, endemic to the South Island. It belongs to an endemic genus along with the whitehead (M. albicilla), and the brown creeper (M. novaezelandiae). All three species have suffered through habitat loss at least since the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, but unlike the whitehead and brown creeper, the mohua has disappeared from large, relatively unmodified forests and is continuing to decline. Last century mohua were one of the most abundant and conspicuous forest birds in the South Island. Historical records show that they were once present in most forest habitats of the South Island and Stewart Island (some 6.5 million ha). They are now all but absent from 75 % of their former range and much reduction in range has occurred in the last 20 years (O’Donnell & Dilks 1983, Gaze 1985). As a response to concerns about the status of mohua, a workshop was held in 1985 which reviewed the decline, current knowledge, and future research and management possibilities for the species (O’Donnell 1985). As a result of this workshop a monitoring programme was set up at key sites around the South Island (O’Donnell 1986). It was planned that surveys be repeated annually for 10 years to document the pattern of change of mohua populations.