Pukeko crowned as Bird of the Year

By Paul Harper

Photo / supplied
Photo / supplied

New Zealanders have voted ... and the pukeko is New Zealand's Bird of the Year.

The wetland bird has won Forest and Bird's annual election by more than 400 votes, receiving 1,480 votes.

The world's largest parrot, the kakapo, come in second with 1068 votes, followed by the hihi (stitchback) with 756 votes, the kaka with 562 and the Tui with 319 votes.

Forest and Bird's advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said the pukeko is one of the best ambassadors for New Zealand wetlands.

"These swamp hens love feeding on the grubs and plants that can be found in our wetlands," Mr Hackwell said.

"Unfortunately 90 per cent of our swamplands have been drained to make way for farms and other developments, so our pukeko have taken up the role as scavengers, sometimes picking on crops and foraging alongside motorways.

"Wetlands are incredible bird-magnets so protecting and restoring them is crucial."

The pukeko is thought to have landed on Aotearoa's shores around a thousand years ago from Australia.

In this year's poll, the seventh run by Forest and Bird, a total of 7851 votes were cast.

This is the seventh year Forest & Bird has run the popularity contest. Past winners include the tui, fantail, grey warbler, the kakapo, the kiwi and last year's victor was the kakariki.

This year's Bird of the Year poll results:

1. Pukeko (1480)

2. Kakapo (1068)

3. Hihi (756)

4. Kaka (562)

5. Tui (319)

6. Saddleback (304)

7. Ruru (Morepork) 291

8. Kea (209 )

9. Kokako (188)

10. Fantail (177)

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