Tag Archives: sugar water feeder

Friday at the Feeder

Yesterday was a busy day for two Tui fledglings as they called, almost without a pause, for food from the tulip Magnolia near the sugar water feeder. At times they hopped amongst the branches in a skill they will use for life. The parent birds came to them far less often than pleased the young ones but their arrival was always welcomed with much noise and if a brief feed occurred there was much leaf stirring and wing flapping.

Around our dinner hour once again I witnessed the parent birds at the feeder, turning their heads after a quick sip to the young in the tree, then taking another sip and again another turn of the head. It certainly looked as if they were encouraging or directing the youngsters to a food source.

Tuis have two voice boxes and can emit sounds that our human ears cannot hear so I wonder if some special sound of encouragement was being emitted during this guiding.

Eventually one of the fledglings bumbled down on to the fence and then to the feeder for a sip or two. This one was quite nervous and flew back to safety in the tree when I attempted a photo or two.

I estimate that these were fledglings # 3 and 4 with numbers 1 and 2 off finding food elsewhere now, independent of their parents.

I had to go out after dinner so missed any further developments at the feeder.

This morning the plaintive calls were sounding and a single fledgling was in the tree. The cries did not continue as ceaselessly as yesterday and there have been two occasions that I have witnessed the little one having a good drink at the feeder.

The fledglings seem to have more tail feathers than their parents and you can see the lovely fan of feathers in this photo. And if you look very closely you can see some of its fluffy down around on its abdomen just above the tail area.
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I only managed two photos before the wee one returned to its perch and within minutes its head was beneath its wing in the sleeping pose of all birds.

It is a hot, sunny, and almost still day here with cicadas sounding and the birds are quiet. Late afternoon and evening have been busy times at the feeder so I will watch again later today.

The “Whine and Dine hour” at the feeder

I have been constantly distracted by the young Tui family in our garden. My eyes have been on alert for the young fledglings in our trees and my ears have been on alert for the plaintive squeaking calls of the hungry youngsters.
Around 4.15pm yesterday afternoon I could hear a fledgling’s call from the magnolia tree. The arrival of the parent caused much screeching and agitated wing flapping. While a feed was given on occasion it must have been hungry as the calling continued unabated.
A second fledgling flew into the tree and also began calling at times. Adult birds would come to the feeder and drink with the fledglings recognising only their parents and increasing their pleas for food.
Just after 5.30pm this happened: a parent drinking from the feeder and one brave and very hungry fledgling hopped rather inelegantly down on to the fence.
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We were in for a treat as the following photos show. The nicely plump fledgling on the right was still looking to the parent on the left for food.
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No joy yet.
But then reward for the hungry fledgling.
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And then the parent flew off watched by the young one.
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Waiting in a very trusting manner on the fence.
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Patience rewarded as the mother bird returned to drink and to try and ignore the beak gaping shrieks of her offspring.
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Perhaps the parent birds were hoping to show the young the “fast food joint” because the fledgling remained standing on the feeder.
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And within seconds his/her sibling bumbled down out of the magnolia tree and on to the fence. This one’s plaintive calls had been very ignored by the parents.
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Curious children….
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I was taking the photos too rapidly and this has made them fuzzy at times but here is the feeder sitter investigating the feeder much more closely having watched his mother drink 2 or 3 times from it in a short space of time….
It was exciting to see the young one finally dip his beak in the water and watch his brushy tongue taste this food supplement for the first time. In the way of any young creature he fully investigated all parts of the feeder.
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From this wonderful scenario it would seem that late afternoon and early evening is just as demanding for Tui parents as it is for parents of young humans.
I was busy cooking our dinner so we could get out to singing and at the same time watching these delightful birds and attempting to record it all on the camera. It reminded me so much of my life with small children around dinner hour all those years ago. And I resorted to “fast food” at times back then too!

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.
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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,
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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.
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A little shunning was witnessed despite a beautiful tune being offered.
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A little more chat back and forth
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And then one turned its back and was gone.
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As I type this at 8.30pm in the evening as the golden sunset glows in the western sky
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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.

Tui Tuesday

With Tui visiting the feeder very regularly now we were surprised to find that even with a group of us on the patio nearby over the weekend they still flew in to refresh themselves.
Our visitors enjoyed watching them and like us were surprised at how daring the birds were.
So on the basis of that I set up my chair on the edge of the patio and armed with camera sat and waited. My patience was rewarded.
So here is one of our frequent flyers, up close and personal.
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Tui Treats

A few weeks ago I purchased this feeder for our garden.
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The bottle contains sugar water which supplements food for the nectar feeding birds. It is my hope that the Tuis will visit the feeder during the months when their natural foods are scarcer.

Tui on flax

Tui on flax


We also lost our largest Kowhai tree in the June storm. It was a “maybe it can be saved” to a definite “no it cannot be saved” decision.DSCF5347
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While we have transplanted a teenage kowhai tree from the back of the section in to its place, it is unlikely to flower this season.
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So the sugar water feeder was another offering to the Tuis in lieu of the tree they have enjoyed in the past few seasons.
My plans have gone somewhat awry with spring bursting into fullness here weeks early. The Tuis are currently spoilt for choice as every local kowhai tree is laden with the golden nectar-bearing flowers they adore eating.
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On a positive note the tiny wax-eyes have thoroughly enjoyed the feeder. ( The sugar water is coloured with a minute drop of red food colouring to attract the birds.)

source: New Zealand pictures.com

source: New Zealand pictures.com

We do, however, provide another facility for the Tuis and many other birds, in a rather more unintentional way.
When the spouting or guttering that channels rainwater off the house roof was installed, mistakes were made. The length was slightly short and the fall to the down-pipe was too shallow. This results in rainwater pooling at the higher end of the spouting. This provides the best bird bath in the world if daily numbers of birds using it is anything to go by. The Tuis being the largest of the bathing birds make a huge din and splash the water vigorously on to the concrete and parked car two storeys below.
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So I may not be feeding the Tuis well at the moment but I am helping to keep them clean.