For world wildlife Wednesday this week, I thought I’d go back to my roots and show you one of my favourite New Zealand birds.
Called the parson bird by the early European immigrants to New Zealand, presumably because the white tufts of feathers at the front of its neck resemble a priest’s clerical collar, the Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) is anything but pious. In fact, it has a habit of imbibing so much nectar from blossoming trees that it becomes quite intoxicated and sings uproariously. Its song is one of its most endearing qualities, highly variable, pleasingly melodic but also including a comprehensive vocabulary of clicks, creaks, cackles and groans.
Beautifully plumaged in shades ranging from iridescent greens and blues through dark browns to an inky black, the Tui has quite a distinctive flight pattern, with louder flapping than most other birds due to its relatively short wide wings. Chances are, then, that if you visit New Zealand, you’ll hear the tui before you see it.