Mangawhai’s barking tui an online sensation

Posted at 3:28pm Monday 05 Aug, 2019

Mangawhai's Nicky Crocker wasn't expecting be a mum again, but when her brother turned up on Christmas Day with a baby bird she took on the responsibility.

The tui was thrown out of a tree by a storm in Oratia, and would have been left to die if Nicky hadn't decided to take it under her wing.

Nicky had never looked after a bird before and so sought advice from Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre, which informed her that Complan formula – a nutritional supplement for seniors – has everything a fledgling bird needs to grow.

She also feeds him fresh fruit and his favourites are banana, kiwi fruit and feijoa, preferring to eat them from Nicky's shoulder.

Now named Tuitui, Nicky's baby has reached adulthood and left the nest of his Mangawhai home for the first time last month.

It is free to come and go as it pleases and spends the night in the bush outside, but still returns to see Nicky during the day.

“A few days ago, he was playing with some tui outside in the vineyard and then he flew in as if he was trying to bring his mates in. They followed him a little, but then they flew off.”

Tuitui exhibits a few unusual behaviours as a result of his hand rearing and a special friendship with a dog named Charlie.

“He barks like a dog because he is so used to hearing Charlie barking. After we had a party one night he also started making the sound of a crowd's jibber-jabber. I actually had to teach him how to talk like a tui using videos on YouTube.”

A friend got in contact with Nicky and asked her to change her Facebook privacy settings so she could share some of Nicky's videos of Tuitui.

“Within 24 hours, it had 5000 views and after a few days it was up to 130,000 and the notifications wouldn't stop,” Nicky says.

“There were people from as far away as Spain commenting, and I think Kiwis were just really proud to share this beautiful bird.”

Nicky and her husband manage Brook Lane Vineyard and are expecting to release a new batch of wine in the summer.

“We've incorporated our animals into the labels and we're going to have a Tipsy Tui rosé and a Cheeky Charlie pinot gris,” she says.


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