Lyall's wren

Lyall's wren
1895 illustration by John Keulemans

Extinct  (1895?) (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
T. lyalli
Binomial name
Traversia lyalli
(Rothschild, 1894)

Lyall's wren or the Stephens Island wren (Traversia lyalli) was a small flightless passerine belonging to the family Acanthisittidae, the New Zealand wrens. It was once found throughout New Zealand, but when it came to the attention of scientists in 1894 its last refuge was Stephens Island in Cook Strait. Often claimed to be a species discovered and driven extinct by a single creature (a lighthouse keeper's cat named Tibbles), the wren in fact fell victim to the island's numerous feral cats.[a][2] The wren was described almost simultaneously by Walter Rothschild and Walter Buller, and became extinct shortly after.


The bird's scientific name commemorates the assistant lighthouse keeper, David Lyall, who first brought the bird to the attention of science. It was described as a distinct genus, Traversia, in honour of naturalist and curio dealer Henry H. Travers who procured many specimens from Lyall. Traversia is a member of the family Acanthisittidae, or New Zealand wrens – which are not wrens but a similar-looking lineage of passerines,[3] originating in the Oligocene, and the sister group to all other songbirds. DNA analysis has confirmed that T. lyalli, the only member of its genus, is the oldest and most distinct lineage in the Acanthisittidae.[4]