The world’s heaviest, longest-living and only flightless and nocturnal parrot has won the coveted prize of New Zealand’s bird of the year.
Conservation group Forest and Bird announced the kakapo on Monday morning as the 2020 winner of hotly-contested poll – and first two-time winner.
“New Zealand’s mighty moss chicken can add yet another feather to its cap,” poll organiser Laura Keown said.
The critically endangered green parrot of is the subject of major conservation efforts in New Zealand.
“These birds were literally brought back from the brink of extinction,” Ms Keown said.
“There were only 50 birds in the 1990s and they’ve been saved by intensive conservation efforts. Today there are 213 kakapo.”
“The things that make kakapo unique also make them vulnerable to threats. They are slow breeders, they nest on the ground and their main defence is to imitate a shrub.
“Those qualities worked great in the island of birds the kakapo evolved in but they don’t fool introduced predators like stoats, rats and cats.”
The 2020 poll was pushed back to avoid a clash with New Zealand’s parliamentary election.
More than 55,000 votes were received, with the kakapo leapfrogging the toroa – or antipodean albatross – on preferences.
There was plenty of controversy in the 2020 count, when it emerged last week that a wave of fraudulent votes in favour of the little-spotted kiwi had been detected.
The endangered pukupuku rocketed to the top of the competition thanks to 1500 dodgy votes placed in the middle of the night. But they were quickly detected, and pukupuku returned to its rightful place in the middle of the list.
The annual competition always attracts plenty of New Zealanders who run social media campaigns in support of their favourite feathered friends.