A Tui From New Zealand


In one of my latest post  (Golden Flicker), my dear friend Su from over at Zimmerbitch and I had a little chat about New Zealand´s national bird – the kiwi – and how she would prefer another one as such, since the kiwi is not only nocturnal but also flightless which contributes to it not being often seen by people.

If it were up to her, she would choose the Tui instead of which she has a pair in her garden.

The tui is a large honeyeater that appears at first glance completely black except for a small tuft of white feathers at its neck and a small white wing patch, causing it to resemble a parson in clerical attire.

On closer inspection however it can be seen that the tui have brown feathers on the back and flanks, a multicoloured iridescent sheen that varies with the angle from which the light strikes them, and a dusting of small, white-shafted feathers on the back and sides of the neck that produce a lacy collar. Also the wings and the tail feathers appear more blue and green than black when the light strikes them at the right angle.

The Tui in my water color also has just fed on a New Zealand flax which is why there´s quite a big stain of yellow pollen on his head.


Tui (water color on paper; April 2018)


The nectar of New Zealand flax sometimes ferments, resulting in the tui flying in a fashion that suggests that they might be drunk. 😉

Tui are considered to be very intelligent, much like parrots. They also resemble parrots in their ability to clearly imitate human speech, and were trained by Māori to replicate complex speech.

Male tui can be extremely aggressive, chasing all other birds (even bigger ones) from their territory with loud flapping and sounds akin to rude human speech.


Tui detail head Kopie
Tui detail (water color on paper; April 2018)


Most of my bird water colors that I have so far shared here with you took about 2 days to get finished.

This however was a 4-day bird!


Tui detail tail Kopie
Tui detail (water color on paper; April 2018)



How about your national birds? Do you like them or would you prefer another one instead?

Published by Sarah

Artist & Illustrator

77 thoughts on “A Tui From New Zealand

  1. Hooray! I found your tui painting. It’s lovely and I adore the detail of the yellow pollen on its head. I love the kiwi but, like Su, I think it would be nice to have a national bird that we saw more often!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay!! 😄 I love pollen covered bees so I thought why not make the tui share the look? 😉 So glad that you like it, and made the effort to find it – that means a lot to me! Thank you very much! 🙏 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah, I’m glad you and Su got chatting about kiwis and her favourite bird as we are rewarded with this beautiful tui! (Imagine having this in one’s garden!) A beautiful painting and I love the detail of the yellow pollen! It’s fun to learn about the birds too … and smiling at the possibility they may be a bit drunk! Wishing you a lovely day! 😀❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful detail and artwork, Sarah! It’s interesting to know that these birds are similar to parrots in that they can imitate human speech, too. I’m always fascinated by my sister’s parrot that can do this and sound exactly like the person he’s mimicking. Also, our state bird is the California Quail, which is okay, but doesn’t thrill me. I’d rather have a bird more colorful and/or intriguing, like hummingbird, owl, or even duck. 🙂 Our national bird is the bald eagle, which is pretty special. Great post, my friend…xo 🐦🦅🦆 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Lauren! I´m also amazed at their ability to imitate human speech – imagine they could use it and talk to us not only imitate!!
      I just had a look at your quail and think it´s very cute with that little tuff of feathers above its head. 🙂 Ours is the golden eagle which is of course very impressive but I´ve never seen one in real life so would prefer something more common like the blue tit which I just love!
      Have a great week, dear friend! Hugs&love! xoxo ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy the facts part too in these posts – I feel a bit like a lecturing professor but can’t stop myself – lol! 😂
      Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment dear friend! You always make my day! xoxo 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see why the tui took you so much longer to paint, because the detail is incredible! It’s a beautiful painting of a beautiful bird. Our national bird is the bald eagle, which is fine, since they are rare enough that we get excited when we see one, but not so rare that we never see them. Although they do resemble the osprey, which live in the southern parts of the US, so it’s easy to confuse the two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Ann! Getting all the details right is quite time consuming but I think it was worth it. Sometimes you can create the same effect with much less brushwork though but I was eager to try this out.
      Our national bird is also the eagle – funny we have the same. 😁 I’ve never seen one outside a zoo though but was reassured a couple of days ago that they still exist around here too.
      Have a lovely Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so incredibly beautiful Sarah. You have captured brilliantly the Tui’s sense of it’s place in the world (on top), and I love the wing detail. You have brightened a miserable stormy morning; I can’t wait to meet this Tui “in person.” Wishing you a wonderful weekend my friend xxxxxx 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Su! I´m glad you like it and that it has brightened your day – it´s been a rather stormy night here too with lots of thunder clashes and lightning bolts thrown from the heavens! Have a beautiful weekend! xxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The national bird for France is the Gallic rooster, it’s ok but I would prefer the dove (they are more peaceful) or the robin (cuter) or the nightingale (their voices are prettier) … Congratulations on your lovely 4-day Tui !! you should get some rest now 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, mon roi! I definitely need some rest now!! 😉
      I think the Gallic rooster is very striking but can definitely understand that you´d prefer another one instead. Out of your list of possible candidates I think I like the nightingale the best – they are such marvelous singers and I´m so happy listening to their songs again now that spring has come!
      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful job with this one, especially the detail. The bird’s collar is lovely. Ireland’s national bird is the northern lapwing, which is a beautiful bird, but it should probably be the American Featherless Biped, a large, noisy bird which comes by the thousands to the island in summer. They are flightless so they use airplanes to travel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Oglach! I didn´t know about the lapwing – thanks so much for letting me know! I think it might well be on my painting list soon 😉 (Not so much the American Featherless Biped though 😉 – had to laugh so much when I read about it coming to your island in the summer! 😀 ).

      Liked by 1 person

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