Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 December 2010

The Christmas Tui

This beautiful bird is the New Zealand Tui which the early European settlers called the Parson Bird because of the white tuft of feathers above its breast. Maori bird names are often   onomatopaeic which, in the case of the tui, very much suggests its mellifuous song.

At the close of the year, which is early summer in New Zealand, the native flax bush phormium tenax thrusts a spear skywards whose flowers are rich with nectar. Tui cannot resist the honey and come to sip from the flowers; while doing so their foreheads collect pollen which they then carry to the next flax bush and so pollinate the flora.

This tui landed on a flax spear just outside our sitting room window and I was not only lucky to photograph him so clearly but also while he was in mid-song. I was intrigued to see that the feathers on his head rose as he sang; I had never seen that before.

To anybody reading this blog post I and my wife send a Christmas greeting for 
25 December 2010.


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By Don Donovan