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Tui takes lead in first week of voting

Tui takes lead in first week of voting

The tui has taken the lead in the first week of voting in Forest & Bird's 2008 Bird of the Year poll.

The iridescent-suited songster has taken the top spot with 129 votes since voting opened a week ago.

The tui is backed by netballer Irene van Dyk, Trade Me founder Sam Morgan and TV personality Petra Bagust. Sam Morgan loves the tui. "They are the ones we find most in our garden, sitting on our flax bushes. My young daughters call them the marshmallow bird - after the marshmallows they all seem to have tied around their necks."

Forest & Bird Communications Officer Marina Skinner says the tui won the inaugural Bird of the Year poll in 2005, but has slipped down the ratings in the past two years.

"As the tui has consistently placed in the top 10 New Zealand favourite native birds every year, it is well-placed to make a come-back, and it has been very popular in early voting."

Apparent increases in numbers of tui, probably due to greater pest control, means they are more visible and their distinctive "rusty gate" song is heard more often, perhaps accounting for their renewed popularity.

However, the tui is just a beak ahead of its closest rival, the fantail, which is one vote behind after the first week of voting.

Following close behind in the top 10 so far are the kokako, morepork, kereru, kea, pukeko, albatross, kiwi and kakapo.

Last year's winner, the grey warbler, is sitting just outside the top 10 in 11th place, with 50 votes.

Voting is open on-line at www.forestandbird.org.nz till November 7 (the day before the general election).

ENDS

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