As we started to pick the apricots that hadn't yet been ravaged by the birds, we noticed a cheeky young bird swooping in to get best ones before we did. It turns out this bird was a juvenile Tūī and what a pleasure it was to see it up close in our apricot tree! We have had a pair of Tūī in fairly close to our home over the last few months but rarely do they visit our garden. The time they love to visit of course is when the apricots are ripe!
Looking in to the history of these beautiful birds, the following information is thanks to Andrew Crowe's book 'Which New Zealand Bird?, Illustrated by Dave Gunson.
Tūī - Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
In the early times, Māori often kept these birds in cages where the birds were trained to repeat Māori welcome speeches. The cages they were kept in were made of supplejack vines, flax leaves and manuka twigs. These birds were also hunted (also by early bushmen) for food and feathers that were used decorate food containers, caps and woven flax cloaks.
The Tūī has an impressive array of voice. This can range from a beautiful liquid song with chortles, grunts, coughs to imitating other birds, car alarms, cats, children's laughter, barking dogs and much more. It is even able to produce some notes that are too high for the human ear, around 21 kilohertz. It is generally the first bird that you may hear in the morning and the bird that will have the last word at night before the 'night birds' chime in and have their turn.
Tūī take nectar from flax, rata flowers, kowhai, fruit and insects. They are a really important bird for pollinating native forest flowers and they are also carriers of small seeds.
The Tūī has been a protected bird since 1873. They can live to 12 years old or more.
The Tūī can be found throughout New Zealand. There are fewer of them in drier, larger areas like the Southern Alps. The Chatham Island Tūī is a threatened subspecies of Tūī. This bird is a little larger in body size and has longer throat tufts. The song of the Chatham Island Tūī is also significantly different. https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/chatham-island-tui/ follow this link to hear a sound recording of the Chatham Island Tūī.
We did leave some apricots in the tree, how blessed we are to have these beautiful birds visit. (the following picture is our visitor from this morning) Megan & Dave, Trustees