Who will be crowned Bird of the Year?

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

Now in its 12th year, the competition raises awareness for New Zealand’s much loved native birds and the threats they face.

“Tragically, 80% of our birds are classified as threatened or at risk. Their habitats have been destroyed and introduced mammalian predators such as stoats, cats, possums and rats prey on eggs, young birds and adults,” says Forest & Bird’s Kimberley 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 New Zealanders to vote for their chosen bird. Much like a general election, the competition includes all the drama and tactics that you might see in a political campaign.

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

“Last year we had a voting scandal that really rocked the competition. Two teenagers used fake email addresses to vote over 200 times for the kōkako, briefly getting it to first place.”

“We have also had people make videos, run serious online campaigns, design posters, read poetry in the street – we even had one campaign manager get a tattoo of their bird!”.

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

Last year’s Bird of the Year was the bar-tailed godwit, which swooped into the lead with 1957 votes.

Voting begins at 9am on Monday the 17th of October and closes at 5pm on Sunday the 30th of October. The winner will be announced on Monday the 31st of October.

Follow the competition at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz

Previous Bird of the Year Winners

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