“When you grow up you will get your white wattle feathers,” said the mother Tui.

I have been reading up on New Zealand Birds in the past few weeks. I learnt that young Tuis do not have their distinctive white wattle until they are around 6 weeks old.

Early European settlers called our Tuis “The Parson Bird” because the white wattle feathers at the throat look like the white collar often worn by ministers of religion.


I see plenty of mature Tuis wearing their lovely wattles, their feathers gleaming black and iridescent greeny blue colours.

But I was full of delight on Monday night when I spotted this young one (around 3-6 weeks of age) resting quietly in a Pohutukawa tree, rather nicely camouflaged and without his white wattle or fine feathers. His or her dull colouring certainly assist it to remain hidden from danger. If you click on the photos and enlarge them you can see more detail:-)




16 thoughts on ““When you grow up you will get your white wattle feathers,” said the mother Tui.

  1. Juliet

    Well spotted and photographed Lynley. This is so interesting. That white wattle must be a real giveaway but I guess they have become more aggressive and able to defend themselves by the time it develops. I wonder what purpose it serves?

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Spotting this wee bird was a real thrill. Both male and female have the wattle so it is hard to know what purpose it serves other than to look beautiful and unique. Perhaps as they swoop in to dive bomb any intruders in “their” territory it makes them look fiercer?

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      It sounds cold in the Northern Hemisphere right now. I can hear a fantail chirping as I type this. They are sooooo hard to capture on camera but I will keep trying…!

  2. Diana Drent

    It is very cold here in the Nothern Hemisphere. And its really nice to see these birds when you are here in the cold. I’m looking forward to the spring. My favourite time of the year. What a beautiful New Zealand bird, never seen before.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      We have heard that it is very cold and snowy in Europe and America at the moment. The Tui is only found in New Zealand. Another unique characteristic is that it has a double voice box so its song is very interesting. We are noticing that the daylight is beginning to shorten little by little so your spring is coming closer;-)

  3. dadirri7

    i love birds and photograph them too lynley, so this was a very appealing post for me to see …lovely shots of the youngster in the pohutukawa tree 🙂

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      My camera is limited in its zoom capacity but I was so thrilled to finally see a baby Tui and to get a photo was icing on the cake! Tuis are returning to our gardens in large numbers now after deliberate programmes have been implemented to boost their numbers ( and those of other native birds in New Zealand). Exciting times!

      1. ordinarygood Post author

        Thanks. It is very exciting to see the native birds living much nearer or amongst us now. I think I heard a Bellbird earlier last week – they are fast movers and smaller than Tuis so another camera challenge!!!

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