Voting has opened for the Bird of the Year. It’s a well organised process and there are no special votes or coalition talks - just vote for your favourite bird. This years winner has the added bragging (or is that cheeping) rights of being crowned Bird of the Century.
We are throwing our weight behind the North Island Kōkako (Callaeas wilsoni). It is a remarkable and distinctive bird belonging to the New Zealand wattlebird family and is easily recognizable by its striking blue wattles, which contrast with its predominantly grey plumage. It has featured on postage stamps and banknotes as well as being the mascot for our favourite coffee brand.
The song of the North Island Kōkako is one of the most enchanting aspects of this species. It's known for its rich and varied notes, which can carry over long distances in the forest. This makes them a key species for researchers and bird enthusiasts who are interested in the acoustic environment of New Zealand's forests. Their song plays a vital role in communication and territorial defense.
These birds are poor fliers and predominantly arboreal, moving adeptly among the treetops with their powerful legs. Sadly, the kōkako's numbers have been declining due to habitat loss and predation by introduced species like rats and possums. This has led to significant conservation efforts to protect and restore their natural habitats and control predator populations.
Conservation efforts for the North Island Kōkako have been increasingly important due to its threatened status. These efforts include habitat restoration, predator control, and breeding programs. There's a focus on maintaining and enhancing native forest areas where the kōkako can thrive, alongside active management of predator populations that pose a significant threat to the birds. Breeding programs aim to increase the kōkako population and genetic diversity, which is vital for the species' long-term survival. These combined efforts have shown some success, with gradual increases in kōkako populations in protected areas, highlighting the importance of ongoing conservation work for this unique and treasured bird.