This year’s fiery NZ ‘Bird of the Century’ competition has come to an end and the winner comes as no surprise.
The pūteketeke (Australasian crested grebe) has been honoured with the title after a huge, global campaign from British American talk show host John Oliver.
With over 350,000 votes flocking in from 195 different countries, this year saw the most amount of votes the bird election has ever seen since it began in 2005.
Chief executive of Forest & Bird Nicola Toki said that the pūteketeke has many features that make it a winner.
“Pūteketeke began as an outside contender for Bird of the Century but was catapulted to the top spot thanks to its unique looks, adorable parenting style, and propensity for puking,” she said.
“We’re not surprised these charming characteristics caught the eye of an influential bird enthusiast with a massive following.”
“We promised controversy but didn’t quite expect this!” Toki said. “We’re stoked to see the outpouring of passion, creativity and debate that this campaign has ignited.”
“More than 80% of our native birds are on the threatened species list, yet clearly these amazing species mean so much to us as New Zealanders.”
There was also plenty of controversy in the form of fraudulent votes. One single person cast 40,000 votes for the tawaki piki toka eastern rockhopper penguin, which Oliver talked about on his ‘Tonight Show’ appearance. None of these were counted.
Someone in Pennsylvania cast 3,403 fraudulent votes, which came in at around one every three seconds.
In an obvious nod to the power of his campaign, 45 people voted under the name John Oliver. 44 were for the pūteketeke with the other one being for the New Zealand fairy tern.
Forest & Bird are yet to announce the remaining top ten birds. Who knew a bird election could have so many storylines?