15 May 2012

Tui song may be key to bird's survival

9:58 am on 15 May 2012

Massey University students have found that the tui has a repertoire of more than 300 tunes and sings each one for a different reason.

The researchers believe they can help improve the welfare and survival of some sub-species of the native bird if they can identify the reasons behind their songs.

Head researcher Sam Hill says the more trill a male tui has in his song, the more likely he is to attract a female.

Mr Hill says identifying when tui are hungry, thirsty, sick or wanting to mate will help determine what birds should be relocated to create new populations.

He hopes that will ensure that New Zealand tui do not become endangered like their sub-species the Chatham Island tui.

Conservation group Forest and Bird says while the research is interesting, it is short-sighted and fails to take into account more important things such as habitat.

Conservation authorities will not put a number on how many New Zealand tui there are - but all admit the population is declining.