It has become a common sight and sound in the garden – Tui flying and singing throughout the summer and into the autumn. For the first time I can remember yesterday two Tui (or Tuis) sat together on the telephone wire across the road.
This got me thinking about Tui (or Tuis) – yes, it was a quiet day. It was time to find out more and what better place to start than Wikipedia:
The plural is ‘tui’ in modern English, or ‘ngā tui’ in Maori usage; some speakers still use the ‘-s’ suffix to produce the Anglicised form ‘tuis’ to indicate plurality, but this practice is becoming less common. The early European colonists called it the parson bird, but, as with many New Zealand birds, the Maori name tui is now the common name and the English term is archaic.
Tui 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. Songbirds have two voice boxes and this is what enables them to perform such a myriad of vocalisations.
Some of the wide 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.
So there’s something you may not have known.