New Zealand's native wood pigeon, the kererū, has swooped in to claim the Bird of the Year competition.

Amassing 5833 votes in the annual competition run by conservation group Forest & Bird, the kererū, kūkūpa, or wood pigeon, as it is variously known, finished well ahead of the second-placed kākāpō on 3772 votes.

It's the first time the kererū has taken top spot.

A team led by Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick campaigned for the kererū to win by highlighting its prodigious appetite and size.


The Bird of the Year is run to raise awareness about New Zealand's unique native birds and the threats they face.

While the kererū population is classed as stable overall, it is in danger of becoming locally extinct in some areas where there has not been sustained predator control, Forest & Bird said.

"The fate of many forests is linked to that of the kererū, as it's the only native bird big enough to swallow and disperse the large fruit of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire."

The kererū's win came despite British comedians Stephen Fry and Bill Bailey backing the rival kākāpō and takahē birds.

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

This year's competition was also the most popular with more than 48,000 votes, up from 41,000 in 2017.