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2021 Bird of the Year takes flight

Pukaha is backing the shore plover [tuturuatu] for Bird of the Year 2021. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition is back and singing for the 16th year in a row.

This year, Pukaha National Wildlife Centre was supporting the campaign for the shore plover [tuturuatu].

Team members Tara Swan and Mireille Hicks said the shore plover had been involved in Pukaha’s captive breeding programmes.

They both fell in love with the tiny little shorebird and advocated for the species whenever there was an opportunity.

“As part of the breed for release programme, we work closely with each individual, getting to their unique little personalities and stories.”

According to the Bird of the Year competition, the shore plover was one of New Zealand’s rarest shorebirds.

“The shore plover can be quite the actor, particularly when parenting instincts come in during the nesting periods.

“These queens of drama use a ‘broken wing display’ – where they cry in pain and flutter to draw attention to themselves, and away from the chicks when a predator may threaten the chicks’ safety.”

This year’s competition would feature 75 native birds and one native bat, marking the first time a native land mammal had entered the race.

Bird of the Year spokeswoman Laura Keown said the candidates were running on a “wing and a prayer”.

“With so many amazing native species to choose from, it should be a great competition.

“There are new controversial and educational changes to the contest in 2021. The long-tailed bat [pekapeka-tou-roa] is our fly-by-night campaign for Bird of the Year.”

Keown said the banded rail [moho pereru], reef heron [makutu moana], and subantarctic snipe [tutukiwi] were also brand-new candidates for this year.

“Some species on the Bird of the Year website also feature a New Zealand Sign Language translation to learn alongside their English and te reo Maori names.”

She said there was much to learn about New Zealand’s incredible birds and bats.

“As in previous years, voters can rank their top five favourite species in an STV [Single Transferable Vote] style voting system. New alliances, coalitions, and campaign tactics have already emerged for 2021.”

Keown said the five kiwi species had formed a ‘nocturnal animals’ confidence and supply agreement’ with the pekapeka-tou-roa or long-tailed bat.

“Seabirds have banded together to form a grand coalition under the moniker #SeabirdsNotTreebirds.”

She said team paradise shelduck or putangitangi was pushing hard for a duck coalition to support whio, grey duck [parera], brown teal [pateke], and scaup [papango].

“The modest and melodious bellbird [korimako] has a campaign song hitting the charts.”

Voting opened on Monday and flies until October 31. The winner will be announced on November 1.

To vote, visit birdoftheyear.org.nz

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