Tui (bird)

Tui (bird)

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The tui is an endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 passerine
Passerine
A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with over 5,000 identified species, it has roughly...

 bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. It is one of the largest members of the diverse honeyeater
Honeyeater
The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium sized birds most common in Australia and New Guinea, but also found in New Zealand, the Pacific islands as far east as Samoa and Tonga, and the islands to the north and west of New Guinea known as Wallacea...

 family.

The name tui is from the Maori language
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 name tūī and is the species' formal common name
Common name
A common name of a taxon or organism is a name in general use within a community; it is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism...

. The plural is tuis, or simply 'tui' following Māori usage. The English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 name, Parson Bird, has fallen into disuse but came about because at first glance the bird appears completely black except for a small tuft of white feather
Feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

s at its neck and a small white wing patch, causing it to resemble a parson
Parson
In the pre-Reformation church, a parson was the priest of an independent parish church, that is, a parish church not under the control of a larger ecclesiastical or monastic organization...

 in clerical attire.

On closer inspection it can be seen—and from the photo—that tuis have faded browner patches on the back and flanks, a multicoloured iridescent sheen that varies with the angle from which the light strikes them, and a dusting of small, white-shafted feathers on the back and sides of the neck that produce a lacy collar.

Behaviour


Tuis are considered to be very intelligent, much like parrot
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s. They also resemble parrots in their ability to clearly imitate human speech, and are known for their noisy, unusual call, different for each individual, that combine bellbird
New Zealand Bellbird
The New Zealand Bellbird , also known by its Māori names Korimako or Makomako, is a passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. It has greenish colouration and is the only living member of the genus Anthornis. The bellbird forms a significant component of the famed New Zealand dawn chorus of bird song...

-like notes with clicks, cackles, timber
Lumber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

-like creaks and groans, and wheezing sounds—unusually for a bird, they have two voiceboxes and this is what enables them to perform such a myriad of vocalisations
Bird song
Bird vocalization includes both bird calls and bird songs. In non-technical use, bird songs are the bird sounds that are melodious to the human ear. In ornithology and birding, songs are distinguished by function from calls.-Definition:The distinction between songs and calls is based upon...

.

Some of the huge range of tui sounds are beyond the human register. Watching a tui sing, one can observe gaps in the sound when the beak is agape and throat tufts throbbing. Tuis will also sing at night, especially around the full moon
Full moon
Full moon lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. More precisely, a full moon occurs when the geocentric apparent longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180 degrees; the Moon is then in opposition with the Sun.Lunar eclipses can only occur at...

 period.
Nectar is the normal diet but fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 and insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s are frequently eaten, and pollen
Pollen
Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes . Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the...

 and seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s more occasionally. Particularly popular is the New Zealand flax
New Zealand flax
New Zealand flax describes common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium cookianum, known by the Māori names harakeke and wharariki respectively...

, whose nectar sometimes ferment
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

s, resulting in the tui flying in a fashion that suggests that they might be drunk. They are the main pollinator
Pollinator
A pollinator is the biotic agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization or syngamy of the female gamete in the ovule of the flower by the male gamete from the pollen grain...

s of flax, kowhai
Kowhai
Kowhai are small, woody legume trees in the genus Sophora native to New Zealand. There are eight species, S. microphylla being the most common. Kowhai trees grow throughout the country and are a common feature in New Zealand gardens. Outside of New Zealand, Kowhai tend to be restricted to mild...

, kaka beak
Kaka Beak
Clianthus, commonly known as Kakabeak , is a plant genus comprising two species of woody legume shrubs native to New Zealand. They have striking clusters of red flowers which resemble the beak of the Kākā, a New Zealand parrot. The plants are also known as Parrot's Beak, Parrot's Bill and Lobster...

 and some other plants. Note that the flowers of the three plants mentioned are similar in shape to the tui's beak
Beak
The beak, bill or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds which is used for eating and for grooming, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young...

—a vivid example of mutualistic coevolution.

Male tuis can be extremely aggressive
Aggression
In psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior between members of the same species that is intended to cause humiliation, pain, or harm. Ferguson and Beaver defined aggressive behavior as "Behavior which is intended to increase the social dominance of...

, chasing all other birds (large and small) from their territory
Territory (animal)
In ethology the term territory refers to any sociographical area that an animal of a particular species consistently defends against conspecifics...

 with loud flapping and sounds akin to rude human speech. This is especially true of other tuis when possession of a favoured feeding tree is impinged. Birds will often erect their body feathers in order to appear larger in an attempt to intimidate a rival. They have even been known to mob
Mobbing behavior
Mobbing in animals is an antipredator behavior which occurs when individuals of a certain species mob a predator by cooperatively attacking or harassing it, usually to protect their offspring. A simple definition of mobbing is an assemblage of individuals around a potentially dangerous predator...

 harriers
Swamp Harrier
The Swamp Harrier also known as the Marsh Harrier, Australasian Harrier, Kāhu, Swamp-hawk or New Zealand Hawk is a large, slim bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.-Description:...

 and magpies
Australian Magpie
The Australian Magpie is a medium-sized black and white passerine bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. A member of the Artamidae, it is closely related to the butcherbirds...

. The powered flight of tuis is quite loud as they have developed short wide wings, giving excellent maneuverability in the dense forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

 they prefer, but requiring rapid flapping. They can be seen to perform a mating
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

 display of rising at speed in a vertical climb in clear air, before stalling and dropping into a powered dive, then repeating. Much of this behaviour is more notable during the breeding season of early spring—September and October. Females alone build nest
Bird nest
A bird nest is the spot in which a bird lays and incubates its eggs and raises its young. Although the term popularly refers to a specific structure made by the bird itself—such as the grassy cup nest of the American Robin or Eurasian Blackbird, or the elaborately woven hanging nest of the...

s of twigs, grasses and mosses.

Distribution and habitat



Tuis are found through much of New Zealand, particularly the North Island
North Island
The North Island is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island is in area, making it the world's 14th-largest island...

, the west and south coasts of the South Island
South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...

, Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait. Its permanent population is slightly over 400 people, most of whom live in the settlement of Oban.- History and naming :...

 and the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands are an archipelago and New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean consisting of about ten islands within a radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Their name in the indigenous language, Moriori, means Misty Sun...

—where an endangered sub-species particular to these islands exists. Other populations live on Raoul Island
Raoul Island
Anvil-shaped Raoul Island , the largest and northernmost of the main Kermadec Islands, , has been the source of vigorous volcanic activity during the past several thousand years that was dominated by dacitic explosive eruptions.The area of the island, including fringing islets and rocks...

 in the Kermadecs
Kermadec Islands
The Kermadec Islands are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga...

, and in the Auckland Islands
Auckland Islands
The Auckland Islands are an archipelago of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands and include Auckland Island, Adams Island, Enderby Island, Disappointment Island, Ewing Island, Rose Island, Dundas Island and Green Island, with a combined area of...

 (where, with the New Zealand Bellbird
New Zealand Bellbird
The New Zealand Bellbird , also known by its Māori names Korimako or Makomako, is a passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. It has greenish colouration and is the only living member of the genus Anthornis. The bellbird forms a significant component of the famed New Zealand dawn chorus of bird song...

, it is the most southerly species of honeyeater
Honeyeater
The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium sized birds most common in Australia and New Guinea, but also found in New Zealand, the Pacific islands as far east as Samoa and Tonga, and the islands to the north and west of New Guinea known as Wallacea...

). Populations have declined considerably since Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an settlement, mainly as a result of widespread habitat destruction
Habitat destruction
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of...

 and predation by mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

ian invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

.

Nonetheless, the species is considered secure and has made recoveries in some areas, particularly after removal of livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 has allowed vegetation to recover. Predation by introduced species
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

 remains a threat, particularly stoat
Stoat
The stoat , also known as the ermine or short-tailed weasel, is a species of Mustelid native to Eurasia and North America, distinguished from the least weasel by its larger size and longer tail with a prominent black tip...

s, the Common Myna
Common Myna
The Common Myna or Indian Myna also sometimes spelled Mynah, is a member of family Sturnidae native to Asia. An omnivorous open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct, the Myna has adapted extremely well to urban environments...

 (which competes with tuis for food and sometimes takes egg
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

s), and rat
Rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

s.

Tuis prefer broadleaf forests below 1500 metres. but will tolerate quite small remnant patches, regrowth, exotic plantations and well-vegetated suburbs. They are one of the most common birds found in urban Wellington. They are usually seen singly, in pairs, or in small family groups, but will congregate in large numbers at suitable food sources, often in company with Silvereye
Silvereye
The Silvereye or Wax-eye is a very small passerine bird native to Australia, New Zealand and the south-west Pacific islands of Lord Howe, New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji...

s, Bellbird
New Zealand Bellbird
The New Zealand Bellbird , also known by its Māori names Korimako or Makomako, is a passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. It has greenish colouration and is the only living member of the genus Anthornis. The bellbird forms a significant component of the famed New Zealand dawn chorus of bird song...

s (another New Zealand honeyeater), or Kererū
Kereru
The New Zealand Pigeon or kererū is a bird endemic to New Zealand. Māori call it Kererū in most of the country but kūkupa and kūkū in some parts of the North Island, particularly in Northland...

 (New Zealand wood pigeon) in any combination. Generally, when interspecific competition
Interspecific competition
Interspecific competition, in ecology, is a form of competition in which individuals of different species compete for the same resource in an ecosystem...

 for the same food resources among New Zealand's three species of honeyeater occurs, there is a hierarchy with the tuis at the top, with bellbirds and stitchbird
Stitchbird
The Stitchbird or Hihi is a rare honeyeater-like bird endemic to the North Island and adjacent offshore islands of New Zealand. It became extirpated everywhere except Little Barrier Island but has been reintroduced to three other island sanctuaries and two locations on the North Island mainland...

s successively subordinate to the species above them—they are thus frequently chased off by tuis at a food source such as a flowering flax plant.

External links


  • Fruit-eating birds, tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae TerraNature | New Zealand ecology
  • Prosthemadera Novæ Zealandiæ — (Tui or Parson Bird) From A History of the Birds of New Zealand by Walter Buller
    Walter Buller
    Walter Lawry Buller KCMG was a New Zealand lawyer, naturalist and ornithologist.Buller was the author of A History of the Birds of New Zealand , with illustrations by John Gerrard Keulemans. In 1882 he produced the Manual of the Birds of New Zealand as a cheaper, popular alternative...

  • Tui - New Zealand native land birds Department of Conservation fact sheet
  • Kiwi Wildlife tours Sound gallery (MP3 link) Comparison can be made with the Bellbird
    New Zealand Bellbird
    The New Zealand Bellbird , also known by its Māori names Korimako or Makomako, is a passerine bird endemic to New Zealand. It has greenish colouration and is the only living member of the genus Anthornis. The bellbird forms a significant component of the famed New Zealand dawn chorus of bird song...

    song through this page.