Voting for the 2023 Bird of the Century has begun Monday 30 October, 2023.
Dubbed ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’s favourite election’ by Forest & Bird, the annual light-hearted competition sees the nation’s native bird species vie for glory.
A century in the making
As 2023 marks Forest & Bird’s 100th birthday, the Bird of the Year competition this round will crown a mascot for the last century.
“Which New Zealand native bird from the last 100 years has captured your heart?” the website reads, which you can find here: https://www.birdoftheyear.org.nz/
Raising wildlife awareness
“Te Manu Rongonui o te Rautau helps to raise awareness for native wildlife, their habitats, and the threats they face,” the website reads.
As many of our nation’s native species are in danger of becoming extinct, they need all the recognition they can get.
In regards to protecting New Zealand’s wildlife, people can join Forest & Bird, volunteer and restore habitats, and donate to support the work of the organisation.
Five species that have become extinct within the last 100 years – the piopio, the bush wren, the whēkau or laughing owl, the South Island snipe and the huia – are included in this year’s competition.
An intense competition
While Bird of the Year – this time of the Century – is all in the name of recognition and awareness, folks get out and campaign for their favourite birds in rather impassioned ways.
Most birds have a campaign manager and teams behind them – see here for more: https://www.birdoftheyear.org.nz/faq/
In 2022 the rock wren won the competition.
“New Zealand’s only true alpine bird, this little cutie lives its entire life cycle – from egg to parent – in the snow and ice of the mighty Southern Alps. With giant feet like snowshoes, and talons like crampons, these floofs are Aotearoa NZ’s original mountaineers!” the Bird of the Year website reads.
Notably, two years ago the long-tailed bat won, which was questioned considering it is not a bird.
Kakapo, yellow-eyed penguin, kereru, and kea were the respective winners from 2020 to 2017.
The kakapo was removed from the competition in 2022 as it was too popular, and this year is expected to stir controversy of its own, with 77 native birds going for the title.