Stephens Island Wren / Traversia lyalli

Stephens Island Wren / Traversia lyalli

Stephens Island Wren

SCI Name:  Traversia lyalli
Protonym:  Traversia lyalli Bull.Br.Orn.Club 4 p.10
Taxonomy:  Passeriformes / Acanthisittidae /
Taxonomy Code:  stiwre1
Type Locality:  Stephens Island, Cook Strait.
Publish Year:  1894
IUCN Status:  


‡ (Acanthisittidae; Ϯ Stephens Island Wren T. lyalli) Henry Hammersley Travers (1844-1928) New Zealand naturalist, collector. "TRAVERSIA, gen. nov. Xenicidarum.  Differs in several important points both from Xenicus and Acanthidositta.  Bill much larger and stouter, very little shorter, if at all, than the tarsus; the latter about as long as middle toe without claw, or the hind toe and claw, while in Xenicus and Acanthidositta it is about twice as long as the hind toe.  The principal difference, however, is the weak character of the wing, which points to flighlessness, as does also the very soft and loose character of the entire plumage, and the very Ralline aspect of the bird.  There are only 10 tail-feathers, and the scutellation of the tarsus is like that of Xenicus.  These two points determine its position in the Xenicidæ at once.  The type is  TRAVERSIA LYALLI, sp. nov.   ...  Habitat. Stephens Island, New Zealand.  Discovered by Mr. D. Lyall, lighthouse-keeper, and sent to me by Mr. Henry H. Travers." (Rothschild 1894).  The Stephens Island Wren was confined to Stephens I., Cook Strait, New Zealand. An apocryphal tale relates that the lighthouse keeper’s cat managed to kill most of the population, but the bird's demise was doubtless hastened by professional and other collectors..

David Lyall (1849-1911) Scottish lighthouse-keeper on Stephens I., New Zealand (Paul Scofield in litt.).  Lyall was the only person who saw the apparently flightless Stephens Island Wren alive in its restricted habitat. “This species is extinct, extirpated by Lyall’s cat, it is said” (Greenway 1987) (‡Traversia).