The kākāpō won the New Zealand “Bird of the Year 2020” competition and, according to the Forest & Bird agency, was the first species to win multiple times.
“This is the first time a bird has won the Bird of the Year title more than once, so New Zealand’s mighty moss grouse can add another feather to its cap,” said Laura Keown, spokeswoman for Bird of the Year in a press release. It previously won in 2008.
The species that once lived all over New Zealand can now only survive on predator-free islands. The birds were critically endangered with only 50 birds in the 1990s, but thanks to intensive conservation efforts, the population now exceeds 200.
“The things that make kākāpō unique also make them vulnerable to threats. They are slow growers, they nest on the ground, and their main defense is to mimic a shrub. These traits worked great on the Isle of Birds where the kākāpō evolved, but they do not simulate introduced predators such as roosters, rats and cats, ”Keown said.
The species was able to win, although the international albatross community gathered around the antipodean albatross (also known as Toroa) with the slogan “sea birds instead of tree birds”. The albatross came second.
The competition made international headlines after organizers discovered more than 1,500 fraudulent votes for the Little Spotted Kiwi (also known as the Kiwi Pukupuku). Before removing the illegitimate data, the Kiwi led the ranking, but did not reach the top 10 after counting the legal votes.
The agency also reported that Bird of the Year received 55,583 votes that year, the most ever.
The aim of the annual competition is to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique native birds and the threats they face. According to the organization, 80 percent of the country’s native birds are critically endangered.
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