Using Whatbird

Whatbird has been developed to provide a practical bird identification tool for community groups and landowners involved in biodiversity monitoring.

It is not intended to be a complete database of the birds of New Zealand. Whatbird currently includes 51 exotic and native bird species that are likely to be encountered in and around New Zealand forests. Very rare bird species, species with highly localised distribution and sea birds are not generally included.

When to use Whatbird

It is suggested that you use Whatbird in the following ways:

  • Before you undertake bird monitoring: To identify birds that are likely to be present in the area you are working, listen to their calls and learn what they look like.
  • To check your observations: Use the tool to check the identification of calls you have heard or birds you have seen in the field.

Whatbird will help you learn to identify birds and provide you with an ongoing reference. It provides a basis for you to develop your knowledge and skills in the field.

Search functions in Whatbird

The Search field

A search field is provided at the top of the search screen. You can enter any common or scientific bird name, or part of a name. Click the “Search” button at the bottom of the search screen to locate the bird.



  • If you are not sure how the bird name is spelt or written, e.g. is it wax-eye, silvereye, silver-eye etc, just put the part of the name you know. In our example this would be “eye” and see what results are produced.
  • Generally make sure the other fields (Family, Abundance etc) are set to “All” before doing your search using the search field. You can do this by clicking on “Clear” before you fill in the search field. The search will only operate within the range set. For example if you had “Parrots” selected in family, then searched for “Blue Duck”, your search would return no records.

Filtering with the Drop Down Fields

Whatbird allows you to select criteria under Family, Abundance, Origin and Size to filter the list of birds you view. Set the drop down fields to narrow down your search, then click the “Search” button to display the list.



  • Generally avoid making your search too specific. Just set one or two fields, click “Search” then look through the list that is displayed.


  • You must click the “Search” button to undertake a search. If you have not clicked this button, your selected birds will not be displayed.
  • If no records are displayed from a search, or not the bird you are seeking, make your search broader. You can do this by setting more of the drop down fields to “All”.
  • If you still cannot find the species you are searching for after doing a broad search. Display the entire list (by setting all fields to “All”) and see if it is present in the database. Remember Whatbird does not include all species, only those you are likely to see in and around forests in New Zealand.



Species that are naturally present in New Zealand, but also present in other areas of the world.


Species that naturally occur only in New Zealand or a part of it.


Perching birds. Of the order Passeriformes.


Species of bird which have been introduced New Zealand by humans. Australian, Asian, European, and North American introductions are identified in the database.