Tui nest

Tuis establish their breeding territory in September to October and sing from high perches. The female alone builds the nest while both adults feed the young.

Potts says, “We have but seldom found the nest of this very common bird, whose varied notes break upon the stillness of the bush. Wherever we have met with its nest, it has been rather on the outskirts than in the depth of the bush itself. The Parson-bird seems thoroughly joyous only in the full glow of the sunlight, where it may be seen in numbers, darting upwards far above the highest trees, and revelling in its free stretch of wing, now and then playfully pursuing some smaller bird, till it seeks the shelter of a friendly bush.

“We have found the nest from twelve to thirty feet from the ground, and have noticed that whether against a White pine, or Black birch, there has been a sheltering cluster of Rubus, with its sharp, recurved prickles, beneath which the structure has been concealed. We have found it more than once near the top of a Myrsine Urvillei, over which the Rubus has thrown its straggling cords, forming a prickly canopy most difficult to penetrate.

“The nest, rather large, made of slender sprays intermixed with moss, and the wool or down of Tree ferns, Cyathea dealbata, lined with fine bents of Poa grass; the dimensions we noted of the nest are as follows: across the top, from outside wall to outside wall, 9 inches, diameter of the cavity, 3 inches 6 lines, with a depth of 2 inches. The eggs, usually three or four in number, are white, or with the slightest tinge of pink, marbled with rust-red veins, most numerous towards the larger end, rather pyriform in shape, they measure 1 inch 2 lines in length, by 10 lines in breadth.

“The nest containing young is sometimes stained deep purple, from the juice of Konini berries, Fuchsia excorticata. On one occasion, the young, unable to fly, on being alarmed fluttered out of the nest to the ground, a fall of about twelve feet. The next day they were found safely ensconced within the nest, looking quite happy; this could only have been effected through the assistance of the parent birds.”

Guthrie–Smith observed a female singing on the nest. “We were close to her, yet she sang as if her song could have no ending, as if the world was too full of the ecstasy of life for wrong and rapine to exist. The sun was shining above the flowing river, the leaves green, of every shape and shade, her great love had cast out fear.” Guthrie Smith also maintained that the Tui very strongly resents the presence of other birds near its nest and will hunt them off.

Sub Species:
novaeseelandiae, chathamensis.

Other common names:  — 

Parson bird, poe bee-eater, New Zealand creeper, koko, mocking bird.

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

30 cm., male, 120 g., female, 90 g., looks black but in the light has green, bluish-purple and bronze colouring, lacy collar of white filaments and white throat tufts, black legs and curved black bill, white wing bar, sexes alike, juvenile dull slate black with glossy wings and tail, greyish-white throat, lacks white throat tufts or pois.

Where to find:  — 

Common throughout New Zealand but scarce east of the Alps in the South Island.

Poetry:  — 

“Me he korokoro tui”

“How eloquent he is; he has the
 throat of a Tui”.

Credit for the photograph: — 


Dave Curtis

Illustration description: — 


Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume 11, 1869.

Reference(s): — 


Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.

Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Potts, T.M., Transactions of the NZ Institute, Volume 11, 1869.

Guthrie-Smith, H., Birds of Water, Wood and Waste, 1927.

Page date & version: — 


Friday, 5 July 2019; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.