2012 Bird of the Year poll begins September 10

Contenders for Forest & Bird's 2012 Bird of the Year poll are preening their feathers ahead of the campaign launch on September 10.

Votes can be cast online from September 10, when the dedicated Bird of the Year website opens. Follow poll updates on Twitter - #birdoftheyear - and on Forest & Bird's Facebook page.

New Zealand's most popular native bird will be announced on October 10

The swamp-loving pukeko won the Bird of the Year poll in 2011, with 1480 votes. The election ended up as a two-bird race with the kakapo, which gained 1068 votes. 

The most bogtastic bird. Photo: Helen Bain.

The most bogtastic bird. Photo: Helen Bain.

Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said the pukeko was one of the best ambassadors for our wetlands.

“These swamp hens love feeding on the grubs and plants that can be found in our wetlands,” he said.

“Unfortunately 90 percent of our swamplands have been drained to make way for farms and other developments, so our pukeko have taken up the role as scavengers, sometimes picking on crops and foraging alongside motorways.

“Wetlands are incredible bird-magnets so protecting and restoring them is crucial.” 

The pukeko is thought to have landed on our shores around a thousand years ago from Australia.

Broadcaster Damian Christie – a long-time pukeko supporter and former pukeko campaign manager – said it was a pioneering success story.

“It’s an immigrant that set off at great personal risk and without the aid of modern navigational devices to build a home here in Aotearoa. And it didn’t just survive - it thrived. I like to think there’s a little bit of pukeko in all of us.”

The emperor penguin – not traditionally seen as a New Zealand native but boosted by Happy Feet’s surprise visit earlier this year – polled 12th.

During the poll, ex-All Black Anton Oliver rooted for the hoiho, actress Lisa Chappell sang the praises of the black robin and singer-songwriter Hollie Smith rallied support for the kokako.

A total of 7851 votes were cast in 2011. 

2011 was the seventh year Forest & Bird has run the popularity contest. Past winners include the tui, fantail, grey warbler, the kakapo and the kiwi. The 2010 victor was the kakariki. 

2011 poll results:  

 1. Pukeko (1480)

2. Kakapo  (1068)

3. Hihi (756)

4. Kaka (562)

5. Tui (319)

6. Saddleback (304)

7. Ruru (Morepork) 291

8. Kea (209 )

9. Kokako (188)

10. Fantail (177)