Kea ruffles a few feathers to take win
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.’’
New Zealand’s mountain parrot, the kea, has been crowned Forest & Bird’s bird of the year for 2017.