'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Tui through my studio window.

(Ignoring the indifferent visual quality, just listen to this clip while you're reading the rest of this post.)

The last couple of months a Tui has been visiting our house once or twice a day to check out the cobwebby windows of my studio and eves.  

Above is a photo I took a month ago just as he was leaving.  You can see the wonderful blue-green sheen to his feathers.

And finally today I got two more better photos of him (or her)...  What a thrill.

Tui is a unique New Zealand bird, not found anywhere else.  A bit larger than a blackbird, he is a good flyer (unlike many other NZ birds),  adaptable so quite common, has a distinctive singing voice, replete with clicks and squawks, and is  a consummate mimic.  He belongs to the honeyeater family.

You can see the white tuft of feathers at his throat (the reason why Tui was called the Parson Bird by the first European New Zealand settlers), and the lacy white feather collar over his shoulders.  He's looking up at the eaves for spiders and small insects, but in vain because unfortunately I cleaned the windows yesterday.  
And if you look very closely you can see a tiny touch of orange on the top of his head.  This will be the orange pollen from the few flax flowers that are just coming out.  He's been popping his beak in to get the sweet nectar, and the pollen has accumulated on his head.  There aren't many out just yet, so he's still supplementing with insects.  Tui are one of the few birds in the world that have long feathery tongues so they can collect nectar better. 


  1. wow so interesting and stunning photos! a long feathery tongue...wow

  2. Oh that is great! What an interesting bird - you never know what is going to come out of his mouth.

  3. What a lovely post Katherine. The remote uniqueness of so much of NZ's flora and fauna is something I will much appreciate when we get over there. By the way, I like lightly poached haddock, braised Italian vine tomatoes, scrambled quails' eggs and wholemeal toast for breakfast at 8am sharp, accompanied by a fresh pot of "Darjeeling" "A" blended English tea.

  4. I remember a Tui in Piha that sounded exactly like a 1970's trimphone. Unless it was the neighbours phone of course and they were in need of an upgrade...

  5. Thanks for your comments ladies and YP!

    YP, how about you immerse yourself in NZ starting from the moment you wake up to the Tui's call? I can offer freshly poached NZ salmon or trout, eggs from the hens in the back garden, cherry tomatoes from the vegie garden, bread fresh from the oven, and marmalade made with my own oranges and lemons.
    Darjeeling or Lapsang Souchong, or Earl Grey, or whatevertea you wish. Maybe you'll try my favourite: Roibos (Redbush) from Africa.

  6. When we first came here 14 years ago, there was a bird around that imitated the neighbour's phone perfectly. The children called it the 'Telephone Bird'. I think it was a blackbird...

  7. I thought a "tui' was a beer ?

  8. It is Moon, perhaps it gives you flights of fancy and a tongue like a mouth full of feathers in the morning ha ha.

  9. all very well, but what's a tui like in a pie?

  10. Anonymous14.12.08

    Oh, what a treat! The last time I heard a Tui was at the Takapuna playcentre the week before we left to come home. He sat in a tree by the entrance and serenaded us for about ten minutes.

    Quite remarkable, aren't they?

    Thanks for that! :)

  11. Arthur - nice probably. I know the native pigeon was eaten regularly. They get very slow and are easy pickings when they have gorged themselves on berries at certain times of the year. Not allowed to these days.

    Jay, you are welcome. I hope your shoulder is steadily improving? I shall visit to see if you have any new posts when I have done at least ten more cards.


Spam will go in the incinerator. All other comments are gratefully received. Communication is what makes the world go 'round.