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Published: 2008-11-07 00:00:00

Hamilton residents Barry and Dulcie Cowley have been waiting more than 40 years to hear a chorus of tui in their garden – and it’s finally happened.

The nature-loving couple planted kowhai, rewarewa and other trees to attract native birds when they first moved to their home near Flagstaff in the 1960s.

Despite these efforts, they’ve never had visits from more than three tui at a time – until recently.

“We’ve had a tui for years now that’s always come to our first kowhai that blooms, but the last couple of years we’ve begun to see them more frequently and they’re staying around over the winter,” Mr Cowley said.

“Last year, when the kowhai was in full bloom, we saw five tuis on it, and this year at one stage there were seven.

“They sing away and chortle and carry on; when they’re here it’s absolutely marvellous.”

The Cowleys are big fans of Environment Waikato’s Hamilton Halo project, which aims to bring more tui to Hamilton by controlling pests at tui breeding sites near the city.

“The pest control must be paying off because we’ve never had this many tui before,” Mr Cowley said.  “It says hey, something’s working somewhere.”

Environment Waikato councillor Paula Southgate said Environment Waikato had recently received a number of calls from residents who had spotted tui in Hamilton for the first time.

“There are plentiful food sources for tui in Hamilton, but there simply haven’t been enough birds around to visit the city in recent years, and that’s what we’re trying to change,” she said.

“Similar projects have been very successful in other urban areas like Wellington, so it’s great to hear these reports of bird sightings in Hamilton.”

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