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Me he korokoro Tui

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

“How eloquent he is; he has the throat of a Tui”.

The male grows to 30 cm and weighs 120 g. The female weighs a lighter 90 g. The Tui looks black but in the light has an iridescent green, bluish-purple and bronze colouring. An elegant lacy collar of white filaments and white throat tufts adorns his throat.

Also known as Kōkō, he stands proud on black legs and uses his curved black bill to feed but more delightfully to relay its melodious and distinctive song – the first to sing at dawn.

Mellifluous and harsh at the same time the Tui has a dual voice box which produces a song of fluting notes interspersed with clicks, creaks and groans.

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. As masterfully, and somewhat eerily, demonstrated by Cassidy the Talking Tui, their talent for mimicry is legendary.

Tui

Tui by William Hodges 1777

Tui are prolific nectar feeders. Their favourite foods are Kowhai; WhararikiHarakeke; Ti-koukaWhauwhaupaku; Ngaio and Kotukutuku. The Tui is fiercely territorial and noisy in flight, fluttering and whirring in acrobatic fashion. It is unique to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Generally, when competition for the same food resources among New Zealand’s three species of honeyeater occurs, there is a hierarchy with the Tui at the top, with Korimako and Hihi successively subordinate to the species above them—they are thus frequently chased off by Tui at a food source such as a flowering Harakeke.

The Tui sings without regard for which voice box will be utilised. Some notes are too high-pitched for human ears, the Tui song exists on a different plane to other birds.

“Ko wai, ko wai tenei?
Ko au, ko au;
Tui pai, huruhuru maeneene.
Ko terepu, terewai.
Horohoro-horo!”