Have you cast your vote for your favourite feathered superstar in Aotearoa's iconic election? To celebrate 100 years of Forest & Bird, this year's competition is set to crown the ultimate feathered champion as not just the Bird of the Year - but the Bird of the Century.
The annual Bird of the Year competition has had their fair share of wild moments including voting scandals, a bat taking the crown, and even a fan favourite getting the boot for being too popular.
In 2020, around 1500 fraudulent votes were cast for the little spotted kiwi, raising quite a ruckus. In 2018, one enthusiastic voter supported the shag over 3000 times, and in 2017, fake email accounts were created to boost the white-faced heron. The dedication runs deep! Even in 2015, two teenage girls tried to rig the results in favour of the kōkako. Now, that's some serious bird passion.
Remember 2021? The year a bat took the crown for New Zealand's Bird of the Year? It was a nail-biting two-week campaign that nearly broke the internet, but in the end, the pekapeka-tou-roa/long-tailed bat soared to victory.
And in 2022, the two-time champion kākāpō was so successful that it got banned from the competition. Talk about a bird powerhouse!
Now, fast forward to 2023, and there are 75 outstanding bird species in the running for Bird of the Century. This includes five extinct species making their debut, aiming to draw attention to the diversity we've lost over the years: mātuhituhi (bush wren), tutukiwi (South Island snipe), huia, piopio, and whēkau (the laughing owl).
Last year's winner was the pīwauwau (rock wren, pictured above), a true feathered gem.
And speaking of our love for birds, here at Paintvine, our passion for these winged wonders knows no bounds. Our bird paintings are a fan favourite, and we're constantly adding to our collection. If there's a particular bird you'd love to paint, just give us a shout, and our talented artists will whip up a tribute painting for our collection.
Voting closes at 5 pm on Sunday, 12 November, 2023, vote here! The grand reveal is set for the following morning, November 13, 2023. Stay tuned for the big announcement and let's celebrate the incredible world of New Zealand's birds together!