Monday, June 30, 2008

Mr Tui

When I moved into my new house here, it came complete with Mr Tui. Mr Tui lived in the large Banksia tree next door, the tree was right on my boundary with branches coming onto my property. There was not a day when Mr Tui wasn't there, singing his heart out, with the most amazing sounds.

I used to watch him from my bed in the mornings as my bedroom window looked out into the tree. He used to not allow any other birds in the Banksia. He would aggressively chase sparrows, white-eyes, mynahs and blackbirds, right out of the tree. Once they were all gone, he would sit in the branches, puff himself out to twice the size and sing to his hearts content.

As the years went on, Mr Tui brought Mrs Tui to the tree and they raised their family. There was nothing I liked better to do than to sit in my lounge and listen to them sing. The joy of being able to hear with the cochlear implant.

But as I've noticed in my brief time on earth, that nothing ever stays the same. First, my cochlear implant failed and I could no longer hear Mr Tui sing. Then my neighbour subdivided his property and built a house right on my boundary. Despite my protests, he cut down the Banksia Tree and I lost Mr Tui and his family, and they lost a wonderful home with unlimited food. To say I was angry was an understatement!

In the last year or so I would occasionally see a flash of green blue as Mr Tui flew into the bottlebrush tree next to his old tree, so I knew he was around, but he never stayed. I decided I needed to attract him back somehow so I headed down to the garden centre and bought a half round planter which I have nailed onto my fence at the back. It's just under a tree, which I think is privet, but I'm not affected by it. I filled the half round planter about 3/4's with soil, then placed weed matting over it. Then I placed pebbles ot top to hold the weed mat in place. Lastly i got two plastic containers. One is just something I picked up from the plastic factory, and the other is an old tupperware container I no longer use.

I fill up the larger plastic container with sugared water. I buy brown sugar, fill up a container of brown sugar 3/4's the way, then place boiling water up to the top, stir it all up, wait for it to cool then fill up the dish outside. In the smaller container, i fill up that with any leftover rice I might have. Any fruit that is no longer edible, I cut up and place it on the part of the half round where there is only pebbles. The birds go nuts over the rice.

Underneath this, I have another plastic container, sitting on a deck chair, that I fill with wheat or chicken feed. What this does is attract the pink doves, whose cooing then attracts all the other birds to see what they are cooing about.

On my feeder right now, I have about 15 white eyes or waxeyes, about half a dozen sparrows and one pink dove. But whats really exciting is that Mr Tui is back.

He's been back for about a month, was only here for a few hours at first, but now seems to sit in the tree for hours, and drinking the sugared water. What's more I can hear him again with my new reimplanted cochlear implant so I'm rapt. He's still a big boy, and his song is very recognisable. In the last couple of days I've noticed he's been chasing all the other birds away from the tree, which means that he has made himself at home. Occasionally he brings Mrs Tui back, but she doesn't seem to feed from the feeder.

You can hear the Tui sound here. My friends young son once got out of the car when they arrived here and commented that the 'tree was squeaking'. We laughed and said it was a Tui. But it was an apt description from someone so young.

I found more information about the Tui from Wikipaedia...

Tui are considered to be very intelligent, much like parrots. 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-like notes with clicks, cackles, timber-like creaks and groans, and wheezing sounds—the unusual possession of two voiceboxes enable Tui to perform such a myriad of vocalisations.

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. Tui will also sing at night, especially around the full moon period.

Male Tui can be extremely aggressive, chasing all other birds (large and small) from their territory with loud flapping and sounds akin to rude human speech. This is especially true of other Tui 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 harriers and magpies.

I guess this is the behaviour I've been watching - so nice to think that my tree is one of his favourite feeding places!!! I love his white cravat he wears too!

I'm just so pleased I can hear him again, and very pleased he's back.


Bron said...

Beautiful photos. I love the colours on Tui's and their inspiring singing. They are definitely one of my favourite birds. One reason I am thankful I live in NZ.

Liz said...

his iridescent colors truly are remarkably beautiful. No wonder you treasure his presence! (And your neighbor who chopped down the tree should be...should be...oh, I don't know. Something severe, though. >:-(

So glad your buddy is back! Thanks for the description and all. Great information. I learn so much from you postings.

Anonymous said...

I too feed the birds in Winter and also have resident Tui 3 or 4. I buy seed from the bird barn and a $2 box of fruit from Fruit/Vege world. The birds love this and I love watching them.
Also I envy your experience with Khan. I watch the Lion Man on TV and love what he does to help conserve these beautiful big cats.