Battle of the birds - Bird of the Year 2018

bird of the year

The annual vote for "Bird of the Year” is an opportunity to raise awareness of the desperate plight of all endangered and threatened birds throughout NZ. Both passionate advocates for nature, Nicky McArthur and Ailsa McGilvary-Howard, despite bird rivalry, happily join forces and ask you to vote to support Kaikōura's Hutton's Shearwater and Banded Dotteral's.

Vote for the Tītī or Pohowera here - read on to learn about why it's important to raise awareness for these unique species of manu māori (native/endemic bird).

(Voting closes at 5pm Sunday 14 October)


Bird of the Year in a (bird)shell

Forest and Bird’s “Bird of the Year” competition has been hotly contested since its inception 13 years ago. Over the years thousands of New Zealanders have voted for their favourite bird. There are 61 species that feature as candidates, and because Kaikōura has such a diverse range of habitats, many of the birds are found in our region. Two species at greatest risk of extinction are the endemic Hutton’s Shearwater, or Tītī, and the shorebird, the Banded Dotterel, or Pohowera. Banded Dotterel campaign manager Ailsa McGilvary-Howard, and Hutton’s Shearwater campaign manager Nicky McArthur ask for you to vote for their bird.


Our Dotterals/Pohowera

Researcher Ailsa McGilvary-Howard volunteers much of her time gathering data on the vulnerable Banded Dotterel colony on South Bay beach to understand why these birds are in such decline.

1. The reason you should vote for the Banded Dotterel is because over only the last decade, their population has declined by as much as 80%.
2. If a species cannot reproduce it becomes extinct and nest failure has become critical for the Banded Dotterel.
3. Voting for the Banded Dotterel will help to raise awareness of their failure to breed, and enable New Zealand to find ways to protect them.
4. These birds are continually drawn to Kaikōura beaches, particularly South Bay, by the rich food supply.
5. At night cats and hedgehogs, and dogs during the day, continue to eat eggs, chicks, and at times the adult birds.
6. Humans also disturb nests.
7. Almost all the nests fail.
8. The Banded Dotterel is a bird that feeds at the edge of a river or ocean. It makes its nest on the ground, in an area that provides a rich food supply for themselves and their chicks.
9. When New Zealand was a mammal-free land, this was an effective strategy because their only predators were other birds, but now it makes them impossible to see.
10. The Banded Dotterel evades the sharp eyes of other birds by developing camouflage - of themselves, their nests, eggs, and chicks. That is why they are difficult to see, and easy to stomp on.


Our Hutton's/Tītī

Hutton’s Shearwater Trust Charity campaign manager, and founding trustee, Nicky McArthur would like you to help celebrate the trust’s 10th birthday by making the Hutton’s Shearwater bird - “Bird of the Year”.

"The Hutton’s, a treasured taonga species link the Kaikōura mountains to the sea, across our ki uta ki tai. They benefit all the land they fly over in the district, and this in turn benefits our whole community.”

1. You should vote for the Hutton’s Shearwater because they are endemic to Kaikōura, a taonga species and Kaikōura is literally '’their last place on earth”.
2. The birds suffered a catastrophic earthquake event in 2016.
3. They are unique because they are the only seabird to nest in the alpine zone at 1800 metres.
4. With only two wild colonies remaining they are extremely vulnerable to any disease, predation or earthquake.
5. You, Kaikōura as a community, has created a man-made colony Te Rae O Atiu, a third colony, as an insurance policy.
6. With a speed of 150 kph on their down hill flight from the mountains they are pretty amazing birds.
7. Crash landing “fall out” affects our Hutton’s, and is exacerbated by artificial lighting.
8. Hutton’s have only one egg per year, so breeding is very slow.
9. Wild pigs have decimated eight breeding colonies since 1965.
10. Shearwaters live up to their name by skimming the ocean waves in spectacular fashion.

Vote for your favourite bird now - voting closes 5pm Sunday 14 October

Article and image supplied by: Nicky McArthur and Ailsa McGilvary

11 October 2018