Tui are boisterous, medium-sized, common and widespread bird of forest and suburbia – unless you live in Canterbury. 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. In flight, their bodies slant with the head higher than the tail, and their noisy whirring flight is interspersed with short glides.
Distribution and habitat
Tui are widespread and locally abundant on the North, South and Stewart Islands, and their offshore islands; they are scarce only in drier, largely open, country east of the Southern Alps. Tui are present on the Kermadec and Auckland Islands, and there is a larger subspecies endemic to the Chatham Islands. Tui are absent on the Poor Knights Islands probably due to the very high density of bellbirds there competing for a limited nectar resource. Tui are found in native forest and scrub (sometimes in exotic forests), and in rural gardens, stands of flowering kowhai and gums, and in suburban parks and gardens. There is much local movement, when tui follow a seasonal succession of flowering or fruiting plants. They usually nest in native forest and scrub, but will commute more than 10 km daily to feed on rich sources of nectar.
Eggs are laid from September to January. The nest, built by the female, is a rough bulky structure of twigs and sticks, lined with fine grasses, high in the canopy or subcanopy. The clutch is 2-4 white or pale pink eggs, marked with reddish-brown spots and blotches. Incubation and brooding is by the female only. Chicks are initially fed only by the female, but later the male helps to feed them.
Behaviour and ecology
Tui are notoriously aggressive, and will defend a flowering or fruiting tree, or a small part of a large tree, from all-comers, whether another tui or another bird species. They vigorously chase other birds away from their feeding territory with loud whirring wings. Tui have a display flight, in which they fly upwards above the canopy, and then make a noisy, near-vertical, dive back into the canopy. Tui play a very important role in the dynamics of New Zealand forests because they are one of the most common pollinators of flowering plants, and also disperse the seeds of trees with medium-sized fruits.
We are now well into spring and I can see the tuis flying around in the park across the road. Not to mention hearing them all the time.
I want to showcase our animal kingdom. It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly. You can join in anytime at all over the week. You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies. Even reptiles are welcome.
Just use this logo and link back to this blog.
I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world
Thanks for visiting.