Tag Archives: Tuis

Tui on Tuesday

No snow here but it is brutally cold and a local mountain road is closed at the moment due to snow.

Yesterday I braved the increasingly icy conditions in a patch of welcome, but brief sunshine to check out the Tuis.

This one had enjoyed a vigorous bath in our spouting which was still full of rain from recent showers.

From the bathing site the Tui fly to a nearby tree and shake out their feathers, preen, scratch, shake some more and sing about the joys of a free wash and dry, no matter the weather.
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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!

Twins in the tree tops while the tempest blows

After further observation since Friday I could see that the two Tui fledglings were spending a lot of time in the Mahoe tree in our garden. I had seen the parent/s return to feed their young and when the gales subsided there were times when I could hear the now familiar squeaking calls.

No matter how much I tried the little point and shoot camera, with its limited zoom lens, was not going to capture these two young birds at such a special time in their lives.

I have no idea how long the “twins” will remain dependent on the parent birds so I figured a call to action was needed today.

The weather is foul with driving drizzle swirling on the back of a very gusty southerly wind. The fledglings are wise and shelter within the Mahoe, sometimes together and sometimes a branch or two away from each other.
My son has a swish Canon camera with a stronger zoom lens and he was happy to pop over late this afternoon and brave the elements in an effort to take some photos for me. The light was awful due to the low cloud and drizzle and to make matters worse the sun was breaking through at the perfect angle to spoil shots. The incessant, gusting wind of up to 50kms at times meant trees thrashing about and the little birds being blown about very vigorously at times. And the birds were particularly active.

But here are some of the results.
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The parent bird returned at one point and the fledglings flew into a birch tree calling demandingly. Here they are hoping the parent will return to them with food while the storm buffets them with some ferocity.
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We decided to return inside and allow the family to regroup without our attentions.
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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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If you don’t eat your greens, you can’t have any pudding

After my post here about offering a very good bird resort for Tuis with full facilities on offer, I discover that my hospitality has been extending further.

The local sparrows who visit the garden in large numbers, some of whom are nesting in under the roof corrugations have been enjoying the” greens” I have growing in three tubs as well as the bread crumbs and titbits I toss out for them.
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Pictured above: Male Sparrow (An introduced bird to New Zealand)
I had noticed sparrows pecking at the old silverbeet plants during the winter months and it would appear that they are even more partial to fresh new silverbeet and lettuce plants. The new plants have been pecked down rather dramatically.
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Mother sparrows have obviously taught their children well about eating what is good for them before any treats are on offer.

There is no sign of slugs or snails and the size of some of the discarded plucked pieces would indicate something with more strength than a katydid has chomped on the leaves. If only the sparrows would eat the bounty of weeds, puha and dandelions that I have such an abundance of right now.
I have placed netting over the tubs in the hope that the poor plants will revive and provide us with fresh, organic greens.