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Attracting and Feeding Tuis

See more about:      Nesting Boxes  Attracting Wild Birds  Attracting Birds to Your Nest Box  Attracting Birds with Nesting Materials
 Identifying New Zealand Backyard Birds 
  Attracting and Feeding Kereru

Our biggest selling items, by far, are our Tui Feeders. There is something about having Tuis visiting their backyard that really excites most people.
We get a lot of enquiries from customers that have put up a Tui Feeder and are either not attracting the local Tuis or are having other problems, so we decided to devote a whole section of the newsletter to addressing some of these queries.

Attracting Tuis to Your Feeder
Tuis and other syrup feeding birds are attracted by the colour red because most of their food is found on plants and trees which have this colour flower.
We advise our customers to add red food colouring to their syrup mix  and in most cases this will work. If you are still not seeing Tuis at your feeder then you might consider using more red around the feeder.
Previous customers have had good results after

  • Painting their feeder bright red - we have a customer with a large bush block and he painted some feeders red so his staff could locate them easily. He reports that these feeders go through three times as much syrup as his other natural wood coloured feeders.

  • Attaching fruit such as orange segments to the feeders - Waxeyes are attracted to the fruit and then find the syrup. It is normal on most feeders for the Waxeyes to find them first and then for the Tuis to follow. This is because both birds share the same food sources but the Waxeyes aren't as timid so are the first to try a new feeder. The Tuis keep an eye on where they are feeding and soon come to investigate.

  • Putting flowers from a food source on the feeder - we have heard from customers who have had success by attaching flowers from flax plants, flame trees and bottle brush trees to their feeders. The Tuis know these flowers mean food so come to the feeder and soon find the syrup.
    One customer was successful after using red plastic flowers from a $2 shop

  • Moving the feeder - if you have tried all the above and the local Tuis are still not coming to your feeder, you could try moving its position to another part of your backyard.
    Just because us humans think a feeder is in a good location there may be something about the position that makes the Tuis think otherwise.
    We have had good results from mounting a feeder on a wooden stake and putting it in the middle of a grass area as far from houses, fences and shrubs as we can get. Once the Tuis find the feeder and are visiting it frequently it is an easy process to move it in small steps, over a period of days to the location you want it.

Keeping Wasps and Ants and Bees Away From Your Feeder

One of the biggest problems our customers report is ants, wasps and bees being attracted to the feeders.

  •  The ant problem is relatively easy to combat.
    If your feeder is mounted on a wooden stake or waratah standard you can create an impassible barrier by smearing a ring of petroleum jelly completely around it.
    If the feeder is mounted to a tree or fence then the problem is a little harder to solve. Try smearing petroleum jelly in a ring around the outside of the bowl. This will stop the ants getting into the bowl but they will still be attracted to the feeder and the syrup that the messy Tuis have dropped out of the bowl. Another method is to stand the bowl in a jar lid filled with water.

  • A good method to solve the wasp and bee problem is to move the feeder. You only have to move it a short distance (500mm should do) The Tuis will have no problem finding it again but it will take the bees and wasps a week or two to track it down because they are not that smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever.
    They may never find it in its new location, but when they do just move it back to the original location.
    If this doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or so until you stop seeing the bees and wasps looking for it. You'll see Tuis searching for it as well, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps.

  • To reduce the attraction by bees and wasps to your Tui feeder, place it in as much shade as possible.

  • Reduce the sugar concentration to 1 cup of sugar to 2 litres of water. The stronger the sugar solution is the more attractive it is to wasps and bees so diluting the solution should help and it will still be providing the Tuis with lots of goodness. You can sneak the sugar concentration back up in the winter when they are gone and the Tuis are needing the extra energy.

  • Keep the feeder clean by washing of any spilt syrup with a garden hose at regular intervals.

 Other Tui Feeding Tips

  • When you initially put up your feeder it will probably take some time to attract your first Tuis. To avoid the syrup ageing in the bottle it is best to just fill the bowl and keep the bottle in a refrigerator.

  • Tuis are very territorial and while your local Tuis may be content to share a feeder, many don't and a dominant male will chase the other Tuis and Waxeyes away.
     It may be a good idea to set up another feeder in a location that cant be seen from the original one to allow the other birds to feed. Even if the dominant Tui decides that both feeders are his he cant be in two places at once so the other birds will still be able to feed.









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