Bird of the Year off to a flying start

Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition begins today.

The competition asks New Zealanders to vote for their favourite bird in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats they face.

“Our birds are in real trouble. Their habitats are being destroyed and introduced mammalian predators such as stoats, possums, and rats kill their eggs, young, birds, and even adults” says Bird of the Year coordinator Kimberley Collins.

“There’s also the threat of climate change, which has the potential to limit their habitat range, increase pest numbers and, in some cases, reduce their ability to forage for food.”

This year, the conservation status of each bird has been added to the competition’s website. This will educate New Zealanders on just how many native birds are threatened.

“I think a lot of people will be surprised to see how many of our native birds are at risk. Tragically, a third are in danger of becoming extinct” says Collins.

The competition involves well-known and enthusiastic New Zealanders acting as ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite birds with many going to great lengths to get votes for their chosen bird. Much like a general election, the competition includes all the dirty politics, drama and tactics that you might see in a campaign.

“The competition can be fierce, and people find all sorts of ways to promote their bird,” explains Kimberley.

“We’ve had people making videos, running serious online campaigns, designing posters, reading poetry in the street – even getting tattoos of their bird!”

"Already, we've had campaign managers come out swinging. Team Kakī have produced a music video, Team Kererū have released some bird-themed memes, and Team Kea have been filming a promo video."

Bird of the Year is one of Forest & Bird's most popular annual events and attracts over 20,000 votes each year.

Last year’s winner was the kōkako, which flew into first place with 3,614 votes. 16-year-old Oscar Thomas led a strong campaign that involved a New Zealand’s Got Talent inspired video and an appearance on Seven Sharp (in which he said the kōkako made the tūī sound like “an elaborate train wreck”).

Voting begins at 9am on Monday the 9th of October and closes at 5pm on Monday the 23rd of October. The winner will be announced on Tuesday the 24th of October.

Follow the competition at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz

Previous Bird of the Year Winners

  • 2016: Kōkako
  • 2015: Bar Tailed Godwit (Kuaka)
  • 2014: Fairy Tern (Tara Iti)
  • 2013: Yellowhead (Mohua)
  • 2012: New Zealand Falcon (Kārearea)
  • 2011: Pūkeko
  • 2010: Kākāriki
  • 2009: Kiwi
  • 2008: Kākāpō
  • 2007: Grey Warbler (Riroriro)
  • 2006: Fantail (Piwakawaka)
  • 2005: Tūī