1 Nov 2021

Bat steals robin's thunder to win Bird of the Year

From Morning Report, 7:53 am on 1 November 2021

The official winner of Bird of the Year has been announced, and it's not a bird.

The long-tailed bat beat all the feathered frontrunners with a commanding lead, Forest and Bird spokesperson Lissy Fehnker-Heather told Morning Report the competition saw the highest number of votes ever and the bat won by 3000.

Second place went to the kākāpō, titipounamu got third, the kea was fourth and the toroa was fifth. The black robin/kakaruia, kororā, ruru, whio, and Rockhopper penguin made up the rest of the top 10.

Fehnker-Heather said bats are threatened by pests like possums, stoats, rats and cats and Bird of the Year was an opportunity to give them a moment in the sun they don't usually have.

"Bats are New Zealand's only native land mammals, and they are classed as nationally critical, and they face a lot of the same threats that our native birds do.

"This year, we thought we'll try and get more people aware of bats and the threats that they face. We thought we'll include them in the Bird of the Year because there's only two bats [species], so having bat of the year would not have been very exciting."

Including the bat attracted controversy this year, and Fehnker-Heather wasn't against future competitions throwing the metaphorical cat amongst the pigeons.

"It wouldn't be Bird of the Year without some scandal, so we never know what will happen."