5 Articles on … 5 birds (of the year)

New Zealand has the best native birds, we have the cheeky kea, the booming kākāpō, the big fat kererū and the playful pīwakawaka (fantail). That is why I think everyone should vote in the Forest & Bird's Bird of the Year Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau competition. In previous years I have voted for the tarāpuka (black-billed gull) mainly because they were nesting in the middle of Christchurch city which I thought  was amusing. I also quite like the tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) mainly because of its eyebrows.

This year I decided to research some or our birds before casting my vote.

  1. Kōkā - South Island kōkako
    The last official sighting was in 1967, and has been declared extinct but people are still looking for this grey ghost and there is $10,000 reward if you can provide proof that this bird still exists.
    Call of the - Kōkako
    Skara Bohny, The Press (Christchurch N.Z,) 28 August 2021 p A.14
    Database: NewsBank Access New Zealand (article found using eResource Discovery Search)
    This is one of the latest reports on the elusive kōkako and two people who have been searching for the grey ghost.
  2. Kaikōura tītī - Hutton's shearwater
    This seabird is unique to the seaward ranges of Kaikōura and are the only seabird in New Zealand that nest high in the mountains then commute to sea during the day. The 2016 Kaikōura earthquake destroyed about 15% of their nesting area and reduced the population by a third.
    11 rare seabirds killed
    Allott Amber, The Press (Christchurch N.Z,) 7 October 2021 p 9
    Database: Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre Plus accessed via eResources Discovery Search (eDS)
    Clumsy fledging birds are prone to crash-landing on roads, as they are a wandering nocturnal seabird that are easily confused by bright streetlights. Calls  are being made to change streetlights and be aware of the tītī in Kaikōura.
  3. Tūturuatu - Shore plover
    The tūturuatu is known as a bit of an actor, known for pretending to be injured to lure predators away from its chicks.
    Entire rare bird colony vanishes, baffling New Zealand scientists; Experts believe endangered shore plovers -- known for their pluck and friendliness -- might have flown away or been eaten by predators.
    Eleanor Ainge Roy Guardian [London, England], 9 July 2020
    Database: Gale General OneFile accessed via eResources Discovery Search (eDS)
    A team of scientist have been deployed to recapture the few remaining survivors of a flock of tūturuatu that have absconded from a predator free island in New Zealand during coronavirus lockdown.
  4. Pīwauwau - Rock wren
    This tiny alpine bird never goes below the bush-line, weighing less than an AA battery and laying eggs the size of a 10 cent coin.
    Rock Wren
    Matt Winter Wilderness (Auckland, N.Z.), Feb 2018; p.42
    Database: eResources Discovery Search (eDS)
    A bird spotting feature article for those interesting in spotting the pīwauwau in the wild.
  5. Kōtuku ngutupapa - Royal spoonbill
    A truly local bird with flocks spotted on the Avon-Heathcote/Ihutai Estuary, Brooklands Lagoon, Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora, Lyttelton Harbour Lake Forsyth/Wairewa and Akaroa Harbour. A new colony has established itself at Oruapaeroa/Travis Wetland this year.
    Meet the spoonbills
    Dave Hansford New Zealand Geographic November - December 2021 issue172
    Database: New Zealand Geographic Archive
    Royal Spoonbills arrived in New Zealand from Australia in 1861, they are technically native because they flew here by themselves. The bird's Māori name, kōtuku ngutupapa describes a "white heron with big black lips". When courting they wear bright yellow eyebrow, they sport a mustard coloured flush their breast and their eyes turn red.

What's my vote? White heron with big black lips.

For more information on our native birds, check out our page on New Zealand Birds