New Zealand’s Feathered Race Takes Off

New Zealand’s Feathered Race Takes Off

The annual “Bird of the Year” competition in New Zealand has taken an unexpected twist this year, garnering international attention. The contest, designed to raise awareness about the country’s native birds, many of which are endangered or extinct, has seen a significant increase in votes for a particular bird — the pūteketeke.

A Campaign Takes Wing

The pūteketeke, or Australasian crested grebe, has found an unexpected advocate in American late-night show host John Oliver. Oliver has spearheaded a worldwide campaign in support of the pūteketeke, even donning a costume of the bird on fellow comedian Jimmy Fallon’s talk show.

Oliver’s campaign underscores the unique attributes of the pūteketeke, including its unique mating dance and the fact that fewer than 1,000 of them remain in New Zealand. His involvement has resulted in hundreds of thousands of additional votes, a significant leap from last year’s total of just under 52,000 votes.

Stirring Up Controversy

The campaign has not been without its share of controversy. Questions have been raised about the pūteketeke’s eligibility for the competition, given that it is found in both New Zealand and Australia. Despite this, it is hoped that the increased attention brought by Oliver’s campaign will heighten awareness about how human actions can threaten birdlife.

A Centennial Celebration

This year’s competition holds special significance as the winner will be crowned “Bird of the Century” in celebration of the 100th birthday of its organizer, the conservation group Forest and Bird. With voting open to anyone in the world with a valid email address, the competition has truly spread its wings.

As the world looks on, New Zealand’s bird election campaign continues to soar, drawing attention to the plight of the country’s unique bird population. The winner will be announced shortly, marking the conclusion of a campaign that has certainly stirred up a flutter.