Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year competition aims to raise awareness of New Zealand’s endangered bird species, and every year Kiwis flock to the polls to decide who will take out the top honour.
New Zealand is home to 168 native bird species, 93 of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world. From flightless wonders to long-distance travellers, check out our top ‘pecks’ for Bird of the Year 2020.
Toroa – the royal wanderer.
Toroa is the Māori name for the Antipodean Albatross, the Toroa spends most of its life wandering around the ocean, only coming on land to raise young every two years. They don’t start breeding until they are 7 to even 20 years old and, and when they do it’s all on. They have an elaborate courtship which lasts several years, and initially involves a characteristic singing and dancing display. And when they’ve settled with a mate, they form a partnership that lasts their whole lives. Us humans could learn a thing or two!
Kākāpō – raised from extinction.
Kakapo are possibly the longest-lived parrot on the planet with a life expectancy of over 90 years. Our whole nation celebrated as it waddled back from the brink of extinction with the population reaching a record high of 213 in 2019. Although flightless the kākāpō is a highflyer, garnering endorsements from the likes of Stephen Fry.
Kākāriki Karaka – dressed to impress.
New Zealand birds are generally rather neutral in their dress code, but not this character. With its impressive orange crown, it’s also working hard to win the coveted Bird of the Year crown too.
Kea – who’s a cheeky parrot?
The world's only alpine parrot has a whole lot of personality! They socialise on rocky outcrops and windy alpine saddles, causing mischief now and then. The Kea is very smart, with the ability to make educated guesses - a level of intelligence previously only known in primates and humans. But can they guess if they’ll win?
Many of our ‘top pecks’ are endangered. Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of The Year is one example of Kiwi’s working together to protect our birds for future generations. But isn’t the only thing we are doing to make New Zealand predator free by 2050. We are also innovating, here are two of our favourite innovations. The Sqwark Squad is a tech start-up that has engaged over 45,000 Kiwi kids in conservation, and Smart Eggs, are stand-in Kākāpō eggs that mimic the real deal which allows DOC Rangers to switch them out to protect them from predators until they hatch.
Find out more about these birds, and vote for your favourite at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz.
Looking for somewhere that puts birdlife in the spotlight? We know a place.