Merops novaeseelandiae Gmelin, 1788, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Parson bird; French: Tui cravate-frisйe; German: Tui; Spanish: Pбjaro Sacerdote.
10.5–12.5 in (27–32 cm); male 4.3 oz (120 g), female 3 oz (85 g). Dark, iridescent plumage with two white throat tufts. Back and flanks dark reddish brown. White collar and wing bars.
New Zealand, including North Island, western and southeastern South Island (patchy on the rest of South Island), Stewart Island, other offshore islands, Chatham Islands, Raoul Island in Kermadecs, and possibly vagrant on Snares and Auckland Islands.
Podocarp, broadleaf, and beech forest, including remnants and regrowth. Also in dense exotic vegetation and in parks and gardens.
Hold breeding territories and occur in loose groups outside breeding season, when males dominate females and tuis dominate other honeyeaters. May perform corroborees in small groups near the ground. Resident, but with local movements; more common in winter in urban areas. Males display song flights. Song is highly complex, and tuis have been deemed among the best singers in the world. The song is rich, melodious, and includes soft liquid warbling notes, bell-like calls, and chimes interspersed with sighs, sobs, coughs, laughs, sneezes, etc. Noisy flight is due to wing slots.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feed on nectar from a wide range of plants, including Metrosideros, Fuchsia, and New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax). Glean insects, especially from foliage, and even sandhoppers (Amphipoda). Fruit is also an important component of the diet from late summer to winter. Honeydew is consumed from scale insects on beech trees.
Breed mostly October to January. The large, untidy nest is placed in fork or shrub or tree. The clutch of two to four (occasionally five) eggs is incubated by the female. Incubation and fledging periods are about 14 days. Young are fed by both par- ents, but more by female. Nests preyed on by introduced mammals and birds.
Not threatened, but has declined in many areas during nineteenth and twentieth centuries due to habitat loss, hunting, and predation by introduced mammals and birds.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Hunted by Maoris, especially consumed at feasts, and Europeans, who made pasties (pies) from them. Skins have been used in ladies’ hats. Occasionally kept as pets.
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