The Extinction of the Stephens Island Wren

A 1907 illustration of the Stephen's Island wren by John Gerrard Keulemans. Public domain

The extinction of one New Zealand bird species is often attributed to a single cat. While feline predation played a significant role in the end of the Stephens Island wren, the story is actually more complex.

Holly's Research:

  • East, K. Thalia and Michael R. East. “Ecological restoration and habitat relationships of reptiles on Stephens Island, New Zealand.” New Zealand Journal of Zoology. Vol. 22. Pages 249-261. 1995. Accessed online:
  • Galbreath, Ross, and Derek Brown. “The tale of the lighthouse-keeper’s cat: Discovery and extinction of the Stephens Island wren (Traversia lyalli).” Notornis. Vol. 51. Pages 193-200. 2004. Accessed online:
  • Harvey, Chelsea. “The Crazy Story of a Cat Named Tibbles Who Killed Off a Whole Species of Bird.” Business Insider. Dec. 30, 2014.
  • Loss, Scott R., et al. “The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States.” Nature. January 29, 2013.
  • Marra, Peter P. and Chris Santella. “Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer.” Princeton University Press. 2016.
  • “Stephens Island.” Maritime New Zealand.

Topics in this Podcast: 19th century, 20th century, conservation, science history, stuff you missed in history class show notes, show notes