Kea ruf­fles a few feathers to take win

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

The votes are in for 2017’s sec­ond­biggest elec­tion and the win­ner is clear – the kea is our bird of the year.

It is the first time the kea has won the an­nual For­est & Bird poll, which has run since at least 2005, though it did come in sec­ond to the ko¯kako last year.

The win came at a per­ilous time for kea – they are en­dan­gered with just 3000 to 7000 of the moun­tain-dwelling birds re­main­ing, For­est & Bird said.

As well as pre­da­tion, they were of­ten hit by cars, got stuck in man-made ob­jects, and got sick from hu­man food. Adding to their woes was lead poi­son­ing from nails and flash­ings, while cli­mate change could also be mak­ing their alpine habi­tats too warm.

This year’s poll at­tracted 50,000 votes – up from the 20,000 in 2016. More than 7000 of those votes went to the kea.

The species’ winning cam­paign was run by kea en­thu­si­asts and sup­ported by the Kea Con­ser­va­tion Trust.

Team Kea co-cam­paigner Laura Young hoped the win would make peo­ple re­alise how vul­ner­a­ble kea were.

‘‘We of­ten hear of them hang­ing out in car parks, be­ing cheeky and steal­ing things, but don’t re­alise they are in de­cline. ‘‘You can’t not love them.’’ The Green Party, how­ever, backed a loser in the com­pe­ti­tion, launch­ing a cam­paign sup­port­ing the kereru¯.

That an­nounce­ment came as mem­bers of Team Kea were mon­i­tor­ing kea in Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park at the top of the South Is­land.

‘‘One day we climbed to the top of Mt Pa­tri­arch to get re­cep­tion and check in on the cam­paign,’’ Young said.

‘‘We saw the Green Party had made an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment in sup­port of the kereru¯, so we used what lit­tle phone bat­tery we had left to hit back at them with a re­tal­i­a­tion video.’’

PHOTO: ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF

New Zealand’s moun­tain par­rot, the kea, has been crowned For­est & Bird’s bird of the year for 2017.

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