Home > News > Archive > 29th September 2005

Tui make home in nursery

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Danny Thornburrow and Neil Fitzgerald
LANDCARE Research ecological technicians Danny Thornburrow (left) and Neil Fitzgerald feed one of the Te Awamutu tui that has been tagged for tracking. Photo supplied.

By Dean Taylor

Miharo Nursery owners Alan and Jillian Mason have a love affair with nature, so when 10 tui made their stock garden home last year they were rapt.

The couple’s property is bounded by houses, so to have such a number of birds in the middle of town is great.
Mrs Mason says one bird follows her around the gardens as she works.

Last year one pair bred two chicks and brought them to the shed where the Masons were working and seemed to be showing them off as they were teaching them to fly.

Mr Mason did some research on the plants the tui liked, and found his plantings of banksia were the key. He also plans to plant other varieties known to attract native birds to bring more species to their 2.6ha property.

Landcare Research has also shown an interest in the Te Awamutu tui for one of their current research projects. They have found Waikato towns and cities have lower numbers of tui than many other parts of New Zealand, and want to find out why. Ecological technicians Neil Fitzgerald and Danny Thornburrow visited the property to net one of the birds and fit it with a coloured leg tag to identify where it came from and a radio transmitter, so movements could be tracked. The tracking is an important part of the research.

This year, in addition to using radio transmitters to find where the urban birds nest, they are also following the daily movements of the birds to improve knowledge of the types of places tui prefer in urban areas. This will enable more tui friendly urban design in future.

They have already discovered that some birds which are seen feeding in urban and rural areas during the day are making daily trips from native forest where they roost at night, maybe 10km or more away. The bird caught at Miharo Nursery has been found roosting at night in an urban area not far from where it was caught.

“Clearly we still have lots to learn,” says Mr Fitzgerald.

Members of the public can assist by reporting any sightings of tui with a coloured band to Landcare Research (07) 858 3700 or via www.landcareresearch.co.nz.