The Grey Warbler

The grey warbler, (or in Māori, riroriro) is a rainforest bird that eats insects.

One of NZ's smallest birds, grey warblers are about 11 centimeters long, and weigh up to 6.5 grams. It has greyish-brown feathers, and the face, throat and breast are pale-grey. The abdomen is white. The tail is white underneath and dark brown on top and when it flies you can see white tips. They also have a ruby-red eye. Females are smaller than the male, but otherwise they are pretty much the same. The young are more pale with brown eyes.

Listen to the song of the grey warbler.

Grey warblers live in the bush.

Grey warblers eat spiders, insects and their larvae.

Grey warblers build a pear-shaped nest with a side entrance near the top. The male collects nesting stuff, but the female builds the nest from grass, leaves, rootlets and moss, held together with spider web threads, lined with feathers and other soft things. It's connected to a twig at the top. The male is not involved in nest building or incubation, but helps to feed the babies. The 3 to 6 eggs, each laid 2 days apart, are pink with fine red-brown speckles all over. The eggs, weighing 1.5 grams are about 17 millimetres long and 12 millimetres wide. The eggs take 19 days to hatch and the chicks spend another 15 to 19 days in the nest.

"People call grey warblers dull, but they're the subconscious sound of New Zealand."

– Graeme Hill, Campaign Manager for the grey warbler in Forest & Bird's 2007 New Zealand's bird of the year competition

"In the warm sunlight of advancing summer, when the manuka-scrub is covered with its snow-white bloom and the air is laden with the fragrance of forest flowers, amidst the hum of happy insect-life, a soft trill of peculiar sweetness—like the chirping of a merry cricket—falls upon the ear, and presently a tiny bird appears for an instant on the topmost twigs of some low bush, hovers for a few moments, like a moth before a flower, or turns a somersault in the air, and then drops out of sight again. This is the Grey Warbler, the well-known Riroriro of Maori history and song."

– Sir Walter Lawry Buller, A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1888, London

"Tiakina nga manu, ka ora te ngahere Ka ora te ngahere, ka ora nga manu" "Look after the birds and the forest flourishes. If the forest flourishes, the birds flourish."