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New Zealanders will be able to vote for a whole flock of their favourite native birds in Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year contest this year.

A change in the voting system means people will be able to vote for up to five of the New Zealand birds they love in order of preference. Previously, they have been able to only vote for one bird.

The voting system, known as "instant run-off voting" replaces the first past the post system previously used for Bird of the Year.

“This is our 14th Bird of the Year and we didn’t want to duck our responsibility to keep making it better,” says Forest & Bird spokeswoman Megan Hubscher.

“We believe its popularity will soar to new heights this year now New Zealanders can put up to five of their favourite birds in the running. We’re sure people will embrace it and the birds will too.”

Under the voting system, up to five preferences of voters can be taken into account to find the winner. This voting system might change the tactics of our campaign managers to “vote #1 for my bird”.

It also means the result will not be known until all the preferences are tallied at the end of voting, adding to the suspense and hopefully reducing the likelihood of overenthusiastic fans of a particular bird attempting “fowl” play in the voting, Ms Hubscher says.

Voting for Bird of the Year 2019 will open on Monday 28 October and close on Sunday 10 November. During this time enthusiastic campaign managers and teams will use creativity, humour, and sneaky tactics to pull in votes for their bird.

The lighthearted competition has a serious purpose in spreading awareness about the threats to our native birds, most of which are threatened or at risk of extinction. Introduced predators, habitat loss and fishing bycatch are among the menaces they face.

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