People flocking to annual tui and blossom fest

August 29, 2019

People flocking to annual tui and blossom fest

The annual cherry bloom is blanketing Eglinton Ave in what looks like pink snow. Image: Michael Andrew

People and birds are flocking to central Auckland suburbs as the annual Japanese cherry bloom blankets streets in swathes of ruby and bubble-gum pink.

But on one Mt Eden street, the annual month-long bloom is so vibrant it’s attracting a great number of some very musical visitors.

Eglinton Ave has been host to an immense gathering of tui since the flowering started in early August. There are so many in fact that the cul-de-sac is a veritable amphitheatre of beeping, whirling and clicking.

“It’s not uncommon to see 15 tui in one tree,” said resident Wendy Ralph.

“The tree is literally shaking with the weight of them all.”

She said the avenue’s residents relish the spectacle and look forward to it all year long.

“One morning I opened my bathroom window and my entire house was immediately flooded with tui song.”

Scores of the native birds congregate to the trees for the nectar which flows like wine as the new flowers bloom.

She said the birds had only started arriving within the last five years but appeared to be growing in number.

Forest and Bird’s Nick Beveridge confirmed this, saying that tui have adapted especially well to urban environments, where exotic trees are a reliable food source.

“The planting of exotic trees is certainly a factor,” he said.

“You see tui in the trees just prior to the breeding season, so they’re fattening up before they reproduce.”

The glory days for urban native birds may be short lived however, as according to Beveridge the loss of tree protection means thousands of inner city trees are being felled in a flurry.

Ralph said this was a problem on her street, where Auckland Council had not replaced the cherry trees when any of them had died.

So instead, she and her neighbours ensure that when a tree succumbs to old age, they plant a sapling of the same species in its place, to keep the blossoms coming. And the tui singing.

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