15 Oct 2018

Kererū wins Bird of the Year

9:46 am on 15 October 2018

The kererū has swooped to victory in the Bird of the Year competition for the first time.

Photo from - Otari-Wilton's Bush 2012 Photo Competition held by WCC

The kererū held on to its early lead to take the bird of the year title. Photo: WCC / Jan Kench

Amassing 5833 votes, the wood pigeon held on to its early lead despite strong challenges from the kākāpō and the kakī.

The kākāpō was runner up with 3772 votes and the kakī (black stilt) came in third with 2995 votes.

Watch Forest & Bird's Megan Hubscher announcing the winner on Morning Report:

The kererū population is classed as stable overall, but it is in danger of becoming locally extinct in some areas where there has not been sustained predator control.

The fate of many forests is linked to that of the kererū, as it is the only native bird big enough to swallow and disperse the large fruit of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire, competition organiser Forest & Bird says.

Team Kererū campaigners, who included Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, focused on the bird's size and appetite, sparking some online rivalry over which native bird is the roundest.

The competition prompted celebrity endorsements from Stephen Fry for the kākāpō, and from comedian Bill Bailey for the takahē.

Bird of the Year also featured on Tinder for the first time, with Shelly the kakī (black stilt) attracting 500 matches across New Zealand.

This year's contest wasn't immune to a bit of attempted foul play, with Forest and Bird discounting some last minute fake votes for the kakī (black stilt). IP addresses in Australia had sent through over 300 votes for the shag, and then over 1500 for the kakī.

This year was the competition's most popular yet. It attracted over 48,000 votes, up from 41,000 in 2017.

Last year's winner was the kea, and previous titleholders include the fairy tern and mōhua.

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