Necropsy findings from natural deaths in free living and captive stitchbirds (Notiomystis cincta) were examined over a 3 yr period (November 1991–94) to establish whether disease was an important factor in translocation failures and captive breeding programs undertaken by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Fresh and fixed material from seven free-living birds and 11 captive birds were examined and were compared with those of a retrospective study of archival material from captive and wild birds collected over a 13 yr period (1979–91). The causes of death in both the present and retrospective study showed a similar pattern with aspergillosis and aspiration pneumonia being the most significant cause of mortality in captive birds. Aspergillosis was diagnosed as the cause of death in 11 of 31 stitchbirds from Mt Bruce; eight of these deaths occurred in the winter months (June–August). The other causes of death in captive birds included trauma, coccidiosis, and sporadic bacterial infections. Hemosiderosis and airsacculitis were common histological findings in most of the wild and captive stitchbirds examined.
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