Tauhou means ‘stranger’ or ‘new arrival’ in Maori. They arrived here from Australia about 200 years ago and are found almost everywhere in New Zealand. Both the piwakawaka (fantail) and the tauhou (also sometimes called white-eye, silver-eye or wax-eye) are thought to have been carried across the Tasman Sea by the wind. They are not an endangered species.
Easily spotted, the tauhou is a small, olive coloured songbird with a white ring of feathers around its eyes and a grey band across its back. Like the tui they have a feathery tipped tongue for drinking nectar but they also eat insects and fruit. You are more likely to see large flocks of wax-eyes in winter. When food is scarce, tauhou will eat fat and seeds from a bird feeder hung in the trees. They also love sipping juice from half a cut orange left for them on a bird table.
They eat all sorts of berries, including those of noxious plants and are responsible for helping spread these plants into our native forests. Orchardists often have to cover their fruit trees, bushes and vines to stop wax-eyes from raiding and damaging their fruit.
Birds can be seen huddled together on a branch preening and feeding each other or keeping warm when it is cold. They lay up to five pale blue eggs in a neat, cup-shaped nest built on the outer branches of trees and tall shrubs and produce several clutches each season. They can reach nine years of age.