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Fantail/piwakawaka wins Bird of the Year 2006

16 October 2006 - Wellington

Fantail/piwakawaka wins Bird of the Year 2006

The votes are all in and the fantail/piwakawaka is officially New Zealand’s favourite Bird of the Year.

Voting in Forest & Bird’s second annual Bird of the Year poll closed on Sunday. The fantail/piwakawaka came first with 458 votes – just a beak ahead of last year’s winner, the tui, which had 453 votes.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says many New Zealanders are very fond of the fantail/piwakawaka’s cheeky antics and agile aerial manoeuvres.

“The piwakawaka is a bird we all get a great deal of enjoyment from seeing. It is fantastic to see this amazing little bird up close as they follow us through the bush, or even in our own gardens.”

With the fantail and tui taking the top two places, it is clear that New Zealanders have a strong appreciation for those birds that are relatively common, and that we can see and enjoy in our everyday lives, Kevin Hackwell says.

“Unfortunately not all our birds are so lucky, and many of the birds in the Bird of the Year “top 10” are under serious threat, or are in decline. For example the kakapo, in fourth place, and takahe, in fifth place, are both classified as critically endangered.”

While others in the top 10, such as the kea, kereru and kokako are not in such severely dire straits as their critically endangered cousins, they remain under serious threat from habitat destruction and introduced predators.

“We need to ensure that these uniquely New Zealand birds are better protected so that their numbers increase and their presence can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Even the relatively abundant fantail can easily fall prey to domestic cats, Kevin Hackwell says.

“If there is just one thing you do to help protect New Zealand’s favourite bird, it is to keep your pet cats inside at night. Just this simple action will be a significant factor in helping protect the fantail and other native birds.”

The kereru was a strong performer this year, climbing from sixth in 2005 to third place this year, possibly helped by the nationwide Kereru Discovery Project, which aims to halt the decline in its population.

New to the top 10 this year were the takahe and kiwi, while the stitchbird/hihi and grey warbler/rirorio dropped off the top 10.

Kevin Hackwell says it was great to see the number of votes in Bird of the Year increase more than threefold from the inaugural poll in 2005, to a total of 3283 votes this year.

“New Zealanders are showing a growing appreciation of our fantastic native species, and are taking an increasing interest in protecting them – that’s something Forest & Bird applauds wholeheartedly.”

The full Bird of the Year top 10 is: Fantail/piwakawaka (458 votes) Tui (453) Kereru (348) Kakapo (229) Takahe (180) Kea (172) Kokako (168) Bellbird/korimako (116) Kiwi (109) Pukeko (81)


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