What do they look like?
• The plumage of the tui can look black from certain angles and in dull light but in the sunshine the feathers positively sparkle with green, purple and bronze iridescent sheens.
• Early Europeans called the tui the ‘parsons bird’ because the two white tufts of feathers at the tui’s throat reminded them of a vicar’s collar.
Where do they live?
• The tui is endemic to in New Zealand which means that they don’t live anywhere else in the world.
• Although they mainly live in forested areas, tui will fly up to 25km to visit parks and gardens in search of food.
What do they eat?
• Tui are honey-eaters feeding mainly on nectar from native flowers like kowhai, flax, pohutukawa and rewarewa.
• Honeyeaters have brush-like tongues for sipping the nectar.
• Tui also eat native insects and fruit.
• During winter and early spring tui will range far and wide in search of nectar bearing flowers. This is the time they are most common in urban gardens and when they feed on non-native plants.
• Tui are important to the forest because they pollinate forest flowers and spread medium and small seeds. When the bird pokes its head into a flower to reach the nectar, pollen sticks to its head feathers. Then when the bird flies to another flower the pollen brushes onto the sticky stigma and a seed begins to form.
Who can it be now?
• The alarm call of the tui is a harsh ‘keer keer’ sound.
• The song of the tui is loud and musical with interruptions of harsh coughs, clicks, rattles, whistles, bell-like chimes, gongs, wheezes and grunts.
• Tui flight is fast and noisy with a whooshing wing beat interspersed with short glides.
• During the mating season tui can be seen looping, rolling and diving through the air. Tui can also be seen chasing other birds from tui to bellbird to magpies.