In 1980, the Black Robin was almost extinct. There were just five known surviving specimens and a single fertile female named Old Blue. Through conservative efforts, there are now 250 Black Robins, and all of them are descendants of Old Blue.
Black robins are territorial. Males will patrol and defend their areas. Females have been known to chase away other females. They make short flights from branch to branch and do not fly long distances.
Diet and feeding
Black robins forage in the leaf litter on the ground for grubs, cockroaches, weta, and worms. Black robins will hunt for food during the day and night and have good night vision.
Black robins will generally start to breed at two years of age. The female robin will make the nest and while she lays and incubates the eggs the male will feed the female for a rest.
Eggs are laid between early October and late December. A second clutch may be laid if the first is unsuccessful. The clutch size varies from one to three eggs, but two is typical. Eggs are creamy in colour with purple splotches. When the eggs are laid the female will sit on them to keep them warm until they hatch in about 18 days. Then both parents will help to feed the chicks. Chicks often spend the first day or two, after leaving the nest, on the ground – a dangerous place to be for it with predators that are possibly there. Young robins stay in the nest for about 23 days after hatching, but even after leaving the nest the parents will continue to feed them until they are about 65 days old. This period of parental care is longer than would normally be expected for a bird of its size.
Survivorship between 1980 and 1991 indicates a mean life expectancy of four years. “Old Blue” however, the sole breeding female in 1980, lived for over 14 years. Some can live from 6 to 13 years.