The dates are set for New Zealand’s annual bird battle. Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year/Te Manu Rongonui o te Tau is back, with voting set to open at 9am on 18 October.
Voting will last two weeks, until 5pm 31 October, and the winner will be announced on 1 November.
“This year’s competition could really cause a flap,” said Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year spokesperson, Laura Keown.
“There are more birds than ever in the running and heaps more to learn about our incredible native species.”
This year, the Bird of the Year website will feature NZ Sign Language translations for many native species, alongside both their te reo Māori and English names, bird call, and conservation status.
“This is the 16th annual Bird of the Year, and we’re expecting it will ruffle some feathers. We’ve got some surprises in store, and our high-flying volunteer campaign managers are ready for their bird campaigns to take off,” Keown said.
The kākāpō won last year, with toroa/Antipodean albatross swooping into second, and the comeback-king kakaruia/black robin coming in third.
There were more than 55,000 confirmed votes last year, making it the biggest Bird of the Year ever.
New Zealanders can once again vote for up to five native species in order of preference.
“Te Manu Rongonui o te Tau is Forest & Bird’s light-hearted competition to help everyone learn about our incredible native species, but it has a serious side too,” said Keown.
“Climate change and habitat loss are huge threats to Aotearoa, and about 80% of our birds are threatened or at risk of extinction. We really need to put nature at the heart of New Zealand’s climate plan and make sure our amazing native species are here for future generations.
“The good news is, when we care for our native species, we also care for each other! When our rivers, forests, and oceans are healthy, our climate, wildlife, and communities are better off too.
“Our annual bird contest is a good chance for everyone to get to know New Zealand’s native animals and get inspired to bring them back.”