Tui ( prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) are endemic “native and unique” to New Zealand. The name Tui is derived from the Maori language with the plural being simply tui.
Tui have a reputation for being raucous and noisy as well as having a very unusual and distinctive call.
They look black from a distance, but in good light tui have a blue, green and bronze iridescent sheen, and distinctive white throat tufts (poi). They are usually very vocal, with a complicated mix of tuneful notes interspersed with coughs, grunts and wheezes, some notes are so high that they are not audible to the human ear. Possessing two voice boxes means the tui can perform a wide array of vocalizations and have been known to mimic human speech.
In flight, their bodies slant with the head higher than the tail, and their noisy whirring flight is interspersed with short glides.
Male tui can be very aggressive and will chase other birds including the much larger native wood pigeon or kereru , bellbirds, stitchbirds, other tui and silver-eyes.
Tui belong to the honey eater family. A tui’s diet is mostly made up of nectar fruit in the summer months and insects in winter. Tui contribute a valuable role in the pollination of many native plants and trees.
As the tui is much adored and admired many New Zealanders place food and sugared mix in their gardens to provide food especially in the winter months but also to provide an opportunity to view these beautiful birds up close.
Breeding takes place between September and October and the breeding season runs from November to January with the laying of three to four eggs.
Tui are often seen on their own, in pairs or small groups. Large numbers will congregate around plentiful food.
Europeans who first colonised New Zealand called it the Parson Bird due to the tufts of white feathers on its neck that resembled a parson’s clerical collar.
From the time of European settlement tui numbers decreased mainly due to the destruction of their habitat, however Tui are a protected species in New Zealand and recent times their numbers have increased and they are now considered secure.
Today the main threats to the eggs and young of tui are other birds such as mynas and hawks, possums, feral cats, rats and stoats.
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