I’ve stated in the past that I thought that the Pukeko, or Purple Swamphen, is New Zealand’s most iconic bird after the kiwi. On further reflection, there is perhaps another contender, the Tui. Tui are large members of the honeyeater family, one of two species found in New Zealand. They are interesting for a number of reasons, like their range, which stretches from the sub-tropical Kermadec Islands to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, along with pretty much every place in New Zealand in between. Of course, a big part of why it is iconic is being the mascot of Tui Beer, one of the most widely drunk beers in New Zealand, but the fact is that it is a very striking looking bird.
Like many nectar feeding species, Tui are highly aggressive and will defend food sources from rivals, even those from other species (this can make conservation of smaller nectar feeders tricky). It was just such a bird I managed to catch in the act of defending its food the other day in Wellington’s Karori Sanctuary. What was impressive was that it was a Kaka, several times its size, that it was harassing.
A good look at the little patches of white on the wing.
Making itself look really big!
An action shot, with a Kaka in the background!