After calling incessantly for food from its parents, this young Tui fledgling eventually came down on to the feeder.
Its pose is very much that of a fluffy, fledgling not long out of the nest.
But a gnawing hunger and observation of other Tui drinking at the feeder meant an exploration of how this food source worked.
First attempt was not so successful.
Second attempt and it was getting a little closer
Then success!! But no photo sadly.
Noises from other Tui had the fledgling showing more of its true size and condition.
And finally happy with some food in its tummy it posed for me.
The past few days have seen an increase in visits to the sugar water feeder by Tui and an even greater increase in aggression from these fascinating birds. The poor sparrows have been swooped at and seen out of a tree and off the property. The sparrows really are innocent of any crimes, just victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time at the moment.
However today at times the air has been thick with Tui drinking from the feeder.
I have lost count of the number of refills I have already done today and the sun has not yet set!
My suspicion is that the first of this season’s fledglings are now independent of feeding by their parents but their parents have shown them the feeder. Some researchers indicate that while Tui are generally solitary birds there are times when families of Tui can be seen together.
Food sources may have dwindled a little before the next food options become abundant.
Nesting and feeding new babies is definitely in full swing so parents are doubly hungry. It has been very windy and quite chilly for the past few days meaning the birds’ energy supplies are sapped quickly.
Here are a few photos from today’s gatherings at the feeder. It has been a very entertaining day.
The large Kowhai trees across the road have begun flowering this week and the numbers of Tui circulating in the area has risen dramatically. The air is full of the sound of their calls and their wing beats.
Word has spread amongst the birds about the sugar water feeder in my garden. So food is available across the road in the Kowhais, the Banksia and the Protea and drinks are on tap here.
Yesterday in the better weather there were a lot of Tui visiting the feeder at lunch time. These two were not initially happy with seating arrangements.
But after some flapping and shuffling about peace was agreed upon and drinks were shared.
Later in the afternoon there was significant fence hopping between the larger male and the smaller female. The various songs, calls and squawks alert me to this dance and I recognise these behaviours from earlier in the year. It was not long after the fence dance then that I found the fledglings in the tall trees in the garden.
Spring and new babies are not far away for the Tui.
It has been apparent for a few days now that the adult Tuis no longer want to feed their young. The fledglings can be very insistent about wanting their parents to feed them. However the squeaking calls are fewer and generally less persistent.
But on two occasions this week there have been some very strident exchanges between parent and child. Mostly these exchanges have happened in the tulip magnolia tree and have been impossible to capture by camera but we have certainly heard great flapping, screeching, squawking and lots of branches and leaves crashing about.
Last evening a very dramatic exchange happened between fledgling and father on the fence and I managed some photos.
It began near the feeder, which was empty, and the father bird flew in as the fledgling was looking sadly at the empty dish. The father’s arrival caused the fledgling to fly on to the fence. At this point the fledgling is on the right in the photo.
And squeaking all the time it approached the father bird along the fence.
Feathers almost flew at this point and you can see the fledgling on the left at full spread, imploring Dad to feed it. Dad was having none of that and was equally loud and aggressive back at his offspring.
Action was high.
Then, just as suddenly as it began, the male adult flew off and the fledgling retreated to the magnolia.
I then refilled the feeder and heard the fledgling come down through the branches as it returned to seek some nourishment.
I now recognise the mother and father birds but I am still unsure how many fledglings have been in and out of the tulip magnolia and feeding at the sugar water feeder. Four appeared in the garden during the days between the 6-8th February and I think there have been two different ones at the feeder in the past 10 days but like all teenagers they like to appear the same so I cannot be sure.
Certainly the parents have finished with their brood and now I am watching for the development of the characteristic white wattle feathers at the throats of the young. These are the feathers that earned Tui the name of “Parson bird” by the early European settlers to New Zealand.