Conversations at the water cooler….

Well perhaps not the water cooler but the sugar water feeder. Since the flaxes have finished flowering the Tuis have been emptying the sugar water feeder up to 6 times per day. It seems that we are serving three course meals with drinks to a great many local birds.

Aggressive behaviour has been more apparent with some startling displays of aerobatics and territory dominance. But I have also watched two Tuis happily sharing the feeder, young being shown where to drink, juveniles/teenagers stocking up on fast food and older birds replenishing their tired and thinner bodies after the rigours of the breeding cycle.
Many of the birds are not at all fazed by our presence in the garden and there are times when we can approach them quite closely.

More regularly Tui are sitting on the fence by the feeder and evenings are good times to spot two birds such as these two in enthusiastic conversation.
It all began with an often heard song that heralds the arrival of one large bird. Then another Tui flew on to the fence and both were puffed up and looking rather unkempt.

There continued much singing, both at each other simultaneously,
but also one to the other. Do not be fooled by their closed beaks for Tuis have two voice boxes and often produce lovely notes without much visible beak movement. At other times there are beak movements and no apparent sounds to our human ears. We are assured that Tuis sing notes that are beyond our hearing.
A little shunning was witnessed despite a beautiful tune being offered.
A little more chat back and forth
And then one turned its back and was gone.
As I type this at 8.30pm in the evening as the golden sunset glows in the western sky
there is a continuous but quiet parade of supper eaters visiting our watering hole before they head somewhere to roost for the night. We suspect that moulting is underway for many of the Tuis as their plumage looks untidy and less vibrant.

20 thoughts on “Conversations at the water cooler….

  1. Juliet

    What an achievement to capture two of them singing away like that. I have from the library that lovely book that I think you drew my attention to: Meg Lipscombe’s ‘Tui: A Nest in the Bush.’ It is so fascinating, and has increased my interest in tuis.
    Nice to see you back on the blog Lynley.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Thank you Juliet. I had made several attempts prior to these two brave birds allowing me to creep a little closer. I long for a better zoom to achieve better quality photos but I was delighted to get a series of shots of this conversation!
      Meg Lipscombe’s book is beautiful and informative. Has you little one had a read of it too?
      The Tuis have freshened up some words again so I hope I might be entering flow again.

      1. Juliet

        I’m saving it for when the little one returns from her holiday as I know she’ll be fascinated by it. Good that you are coming back into the flow.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Aren’t they fun? We have wondered about gossip being exchanged or further overtures of love or a robust debate relating to the demarcation(sp?) of territory. We could hope that they are extolling the virtues of the fine dining we offer!
      Feeder sharing is my next challenge to photograph:-)

      1. ordinarygood Post author

        I hope they are compiling a positive dining review! I need to delve into those options on the little point and shoot.
        Whether I could push a whole lot of buttons as well as catch the birds before they fly away is another matter!

  2. Jo Woolf

    Lovely photos of the tuis, and of the sunset! I haven’t seen birds singing to each other at such close quarters. It sounds as if you’re feeding a large community!

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Thanks Jo. The quality of each photo is not very high but the sequence was a real delight to witness and to get photos was a total bonus. Tui can be taught to speak apparently and they are heard in some areas to mimic sounds such as cell phone rings. I would suspect that these two were male and female as I have seen similar singing at close quarters before mating occurred. We would love to be able to identify our diners and count heads but so far we’ve really only managed to know who one visitor is! He is a large bird with a white underside to a tail feather.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      They were very obliging film stars(lol). I would pick courtship rituals after witnessing a little afternoon delight after such a duet with puffery. It is strange to feed sugar water as sugar for humans is such a “no no” and we often laugh and say we don’t want their teeth(not) to rot or for them to get diabetes! They drink long and deeply now compared with spring when it was just a quick slurp.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      No sign of the musical chat today but plenty of feeding. We have had such a lacklustre summer so far but the sunsets have been consistently stunning. Nature can be very mysterious:-)


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