Louis the Tui: The tale of an infatuated noisy New Zealand bird


This is Louis the Tui. He followed me all over my parents’ property in rural Taranaki (Naki), New Zealand at Xmas, singing, grunting, wheezing, coughing and popping like a mechanical toy (Tui's have a very active and noisy vocal range!). 

At one stage he even landed on the grass near to where I was sitting which is the first time I've ever seen a Tui on the ground.

My parents were convinced that Louis believed my Nikon camera and large zoom lens was another Tui invading his space and therefore regarded me as a threat. I like the idea he was in love with me and couldn't bear to let me out of his sight.

Sadly we will never know who was right. 

I followed Louis back and forth across the property for two weeks trying to get the best shot. He would constantly dive bomb me whenever he thought I wasn’t looking – his wings making a noisy whirring sound as he flew past me - and would then sing his heart out from the top of the tree as though mocking my earth-bound limitations.  

Most mornings I'd head out early for a surf at the beach just down from Mum and Dad's place. On my return, as I hung my wetsuit on the line around the back of the house, Louis would come whirring around the corner and dive bomb the clothes line.  "For god's sake, Louis," I'd shout at him. "You nearly gave me a heart attack." He'd just grunt and wheeze and pop away.

Tuis are quite boisterous birds. They are very vocal and although look black from a distant, they have a beautiful blue and green colouring and distinctive white balls of feathers hanging from their throats. I had no idea they were so irridescent underneath their wings and tail until I took the above shot of Louis flying over the roof of our house. He really is quite spectacular.

Tuis are abundant in New Zealand and they can be heard singing away in both urban and rural areas. Whenever I hear their beautiful almost comical song, I feel like they are trying to call me home. Perhaps Louis was just trying to stop me from leaving. Whatever the case, he's still singing and popping and grunting in the Cabbage Tree above the driveway so no doubt we'll start our wee dance all over again next time I return to the Naki. 

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