Monotonous tui song due to city liv­ing

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - JODI YEATS

‘‘Fe­males choose males by the qual­ity of their song’’

For tui liv­ing in cities, the daily grind means they have more bor­ing tunes than their forest cousins.

Ur­ban tui tend to have more songs that are loud and simple than those in the forest.

A study, led by Sam Hill, finds tui in forests have com­plex songs, which have more sex ap­peal.

This is im­por­tant if a guy tui wants to com­pete with oth­ers for a nest in de­sir­able forest real es­tate, with its abun­dant food, nec­tar and in­sects ( Aus­tral Ecol­ogy, Jan­uary 4).

‘‘Fe­males choose males by the qual­ity of their song. If a male sings a com­plex song with a lot of notes, it in­di­cates a good qual­ity male,’’ Hill’s su­per­vi­sor, se­nior lec­turer at Massey Univer­sity, Dr Wei­hong Ji said.

An­other the­ory is tui in forests have more tui neigh­bours to learn tunes from. It could also be the rich food en­vi­ron­ment means they have bet­ter brain de­vel­op­ment, so sing bet­ter.

A post on Neigh­bourly.co.nz at­tracted a cho­rus of sup­port for the ob­ser­va­tion some city­d­welling tui have a call of one or two notes that can be­come an­noy­ing.

Michael Raynesw posted that he gar­dens all over Auckland and has no­ticed this one or two-note song. A theme in the dis­cus­sion was the the­ory this could be an ado­les­cent tui learn­ing how to sing. How­ever, Ji said young tui sound rough and their songs change from day to day.

She was not aware of a pat­tern of two-tone singing, but said it was likely to be an ur­ban phe­nom­e­non. Also, tui share songs within sub­urbs.

Ear­lier re­search, led by her stu­dent Miriam Lud­brook, found ur­ban tui are of­ten loud to com­pete with traf­fic noise, as well as hav­ing a simple song.

Ji agreed with a the­ory on Neigh­bourly the bor­ing birds could be mim­ick­ing some­thing they have heard, as tui can copy what they hear. It is also likely they are singing notes that are in­audi­ble to the hu­man ear or too quiet to be heard above am­bi­ent city noise.

So, the sci­ence doesn’t back the idea put for­ward on so­cial media of a pre­dictable pat­tern of twotone ur­ban tui singers.

Tui con­tinue to learn new tunes through­out their lives. So, if you are both­ered by a par­tic­u­larly monotonous tui, there’s al­ways hope.

ROCHELLE TAIT

Ur­ban tui tend to be louder and have sim­pler songs than their forest cousins.

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