Boisterous tui 'drunk' on tree's nectar

By Stuart Whitaker

1 comment

Tipsy tui have become a boisterous source of delight for Te Puna residents.

The native birds are being attracted to a flowering Taiwan cherry in Mike and Tia O'Reilly's garden as they have been each year since the couple moved into their home 20 years ago.

Mr O'Reilly says there can be between 30 and 40 birds in the 12m-tall tree at any one time.

The Taiwan cherry, or prunus campanulata, is well known as a food source for tui at a time of year when it can be hard for them to find sustenance and tui are not afraid to angrily and noisily compete for the flowers' nectar.

But for Mr and Mrs O'Reilly early spring is a time they look forward to.

"[The tree] only flowers for three to four weeks, maximum. It attracts the tui every year - it's quite a phenomenon," says Mr O'Reilly, who isn't sure why the birds behave as they do.

"They get a bit cheeky and sometimes make a hell of a row. They behave as if they are drunk and are very noisy.

I've been told they get drunk, but it might be just their behaviour at this time of year.

"It's wonderful how they know to converge on this tree. The older I become, the more amazed I am with this planet."

Despite having a selection box of trees and shrubs in the garden to choose from, Mr O'Reilly says the only one that attracts the tui in such numbers is the Taiwan cherry.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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