Jo Morgan found instant fame among a bunch of old chaps at a coffee meet when she quietly popped a baby tūī out of her bag, and fed the enthusiastic baby from her eyedropper right there at the table.
The tūī is called Flappy, and the eyedropper and diluted honey are Flappy’s main source of food. Jo spotted the small black bundle of feathers on her driveway a week ago. Sadly it had a badly broken leg. Happily, Jo scooped up the hastily named Flappy and immobilised its leg with bandage tape.
Now the baby spends much of its life staying warm on Jo’s hip in her bag. At home it now lives in a plywood nest and is warmed by a towel-wrapped hot water bottle.
Luckily Jo’s house is surrounded by tūī friendly trees. And delightfully, Flappy’s mum is right there waiting, and when the baby is outside she brings the recovering fledgling proper baby tūī food. Mama tūī has open visitation rights for the course of her baby’s stay in Jo’s care.
Jo says “The mother feeding him will cover off any special bits and pieces that he needs.” A small bowl of mushed up blueberries and bananas in his nest keeps him occupied between feedings. “And for my eyedropper we have a bunch of honey from all around New Zealand, so it’s certainly a diverse tasting menu.”
Jo says she would’ve had to give up on the fledgling if not for the mother sticking around. “You don’t want to take him somewhere where he can’t be raised by the parents. We just bring him in at night when there’s a cat risk.”
Wellington has seen flourishing numbers of tūī and kererū over the past three years, thanks to active conservation efforts. So much so that Wellington’s own bird rescue charity was stretched to its limits during 2020.
Despite her obvious love for her house guest, Jo’s allegiance lies elsewhere when it comes to the hailed Bird of the Year award. “It has to be the Kaka doesn’t it? They’re truly beautiful birds.”