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Tui photo by Jayne Stedall
Photo: Jayne Stedall 
Tui photo by Kerry Keown
Photo: Kerry Keown 
Photo by Sally Phillips
Photo: Sally Phillips 

>> Click here to report a tui sighting

Tui grow up to 30cm in length. The male tui weighs approximately 120g and the female approximately 90g. Tui are mostly black in colour but in the light have green, bluish-purple and bronze colouring with a lacy collar of white filaments and white throat tufts. Tui have black legs, a curved black bill and a white wing bar. Both sexes of tui look alike. Juvenile tui are a dull slate black colour with glossy wings and tail, a greyish-white throat, and lack the white throat tuft or poi that are a distinctive feature of an adult tui. Tui breed between October and February in native bush areas around Hamilton. Native plants are a good source of food for them at this time of year.

Many tui visit the city over winter (May to August) looking for food. Scientists believe they come to feed on the nectar of exotic species of trees that flower over winter. They currently commute from up to 20km away, and return to their breeding sites outside the city. 

Until recently, over the past 100 years, only one tui fledgling had been recorded in Hamilton.

Tui songbook

Listen to a tui
(959 kb, 137 seconds to download, 56k modem)
Tui song courtesy of Department of Conservation.

Increasing survival rate of tui chicks

Tui nesting success is very low because of predators that have been introduced to New Zealand. In recent studies, only about a quarter of monitored nests fledged young. This is mainly due to ship rats and possums, which climb trees and invade tui nests, eating the eggs and chicks.

To improve nesting success, Waikato Regional Council carries out annual pest control (rat and possum) at key breeding sites in the Hamilton Halo area before the tui breeding season. Other native species of birds (such as bellbirds), plants and invertebrates will also benefit. Having more birds survive to maturity in the bush means that there will be more dispersion into surrounding areas where tui have not bred, such as Hamilton.