Supplementary feeding increases reproductive success in stitchbirds Notiomystis cincta on a lake island in New Zealand

  • Published source details Castro I., Brunton D.H., Mason K.M., Ebert B. & Griffiths R. (2003) Life history traits and food supplementation affect productivity in a translocated population of the endangered Hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta). Biological Conservation, 114, 271-280


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide supplementary food for songbirds to increase reproductive success

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Provide supplementary food for songbirds to increase reproductive success

    A replicated, controlled trial on an island in Lake Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand, between September 1995 and February 2001 (Castro et al. 2003), found that stitchbirds (hihis) Notiomystis cincta in territories provided with supplementary food laid significantly more eggs and had higher fledging  and recruitment success than control (unsupplemented) birds (average of 4.4 eggs/clutch for 17 fed nests vs. 3.9 eggs/clutch for 18 controls; 70% fledging success for 22 fed nests vs. 32% for 14 controls and 35% recruitment success for 16 fed nests vs. 13% for 13 controls). In addition, fed females began laying second clutches significantly sooner than controls and incubated second clutches for significantly less time (15.2 days of incubation for eight fed clutches, and a 4.0 day interval before four second clutches vs. 16.8 days incubation for eight controls and a 13.3 day interval for six). There were no significant differences in hatching success or the incubation period of first clutches, between fed and control birds. Supplementary food consisted of either commercial honeyeater food (provided every day) or a solution of sugar or jam (provided every third day) in hummingbird feeders. Territories were considered ‘fed’ if nests were within 50 m of a feeder. The authors suggest that population viability on Mokoia Island may be dependent on supplementary food.


Output references

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust