New Zealand’s bright green parrot – the Kakariki – has won this year’s Forest & Bird poll (BirdLife in New Zealand) for Bird of the Year.
A record-breaking 21,223 votes were cast in the poll, which quickly became a two-bird race between the kakariki (6,921 votes) and the pukeko (5,228 votes).
The cheeky kakariki has gained favour among voters for its flamboyant dress sense.
“This bird adds such vibrancy to our forests,” Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Vallance says.
“It’s essentially fluoro green, and the five different species of kakariki flash other colours, including red, yellow and orange, on their foreheads. They’re also gorgeous chatterboxes, and they sound like they’re always having fun.”
Flocks of kakariki were seen around New Zealand until the 1800s, when farmers and orchardists shot them to protect their crops.
Today, kakariki are scarce on the mainland – most kakariki are found on our outlying islands. Their main threats today are from stoats, ferrets and rats, which kill them in their tree-hole nests, which they can’t escape from.
“It would be wonderful to see and hear more kakariki throughout New Zealand, and better pest control in our forests is the best way to achieve this,” Ms Vallance says.
One of the newest birds to join our flock of natives – the barn owl – polled in the top 10 despite competition from high-profile campaigners backing endemic tweeters.
During the month-long competition, singer-songwriter Don McGlashan sang the praises of the weka, Kiri Te Kanawa championed the kereru and painter Grahame Sydney waxed poetic about the black stilt.
This is the sixth year Forest & Bird has run the popularity contest. Past winners are the tui (2005), fantail (2006), grey warbler (2007), the kakapo (2008) and the kiwi (2009).
The top ten
- Kakariki feed on berries, seeds, fruit and insects. It is not unusual to see kakariki searching for food on the ground.
- Kakariki translates as “small parrot” in Maori. “Kaka” means parrot, and “riki” means small.
- Kakariki are usually solitary or found in pairs, although in autumn and winter they may form small flocks.
- In flight they make a loud rapid chatter that sounds like ‘ki-ki-ki-ki’.
1. Kakariki - 6921
2. Pukeko- 5228
3. Weka – 1413
4. Kiwi – 964
5. Kakapo - 826
6. Barn Owl – 707
7. Morepork/Ruru – 495
8. Fantail – 392
9. Kea – 343
10. Tui – 339
To see the final breakdown, see here - http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/poll