New Zealand bans world’s biggest parrot from avian beauty contest
The world’s biggest parrot can’t fly, and now it can’t run either because it was banned from the ever-controversial New Zealand Bird of the Year competition just as voting began with angry twitchers spitting feathers at the decision to ban the twice-winning kakapo.
The alluring owl parrot – which looks like a leafy feathered bowling ball – has previously won the competition in 2008 and 2020, and came second in 2021.
The kakapo was one of the favorites to win this year, gaining the support of natural history icon David Attenborough, who described it as “adorable” and his favorite New Zealand bird.
However, faced with a campaign of such pedigree, organizers said they wanted to give less popular birds a chance.
“The decision to remove the kakapo from this year’s list of candidates was not taken lightly,” Ellen Rykers, spokeswoman for environmental group Forest and Bird, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). ).
“We know how much people love the kakapo. The Bird of the Year aims to raise awareness for all of New Zealand’s native birds, many of which have serious problems,” she said.
“We want to keep the competition fresh and interesting, and share some of the spotlight,” added Rykers.
“It wouldn’t be the bird of the year without some ruffled feathers.”
lord of wings
New Zealand’s bird of the year competition has proven to be very controversial over the years.
Past polls have been plagued with irregularities – from a suspicious number of Russian votes to neighboring Australians openly trying to rig the contest.
The defending champion is the pekapeka-tou-roa – a bat.
This time around, Facebook pages have been set up to champion the takahe, described by fans as a “chonky swamp hen” and the kea – which also resembles a leafy feathered bowling ball.
But as voting got underway, Kakapo fans online insisted the ban wouldn’t fly.
“The bird of the year is so wide awake,” said Martyn Bradbury, suggesting the kakapo had been “canceled” and the contest had become a “participation prize” for ugly birds.
Twitter user Ben Uffindell said: “The integrity of our great national sport, the bird of the year, has been permanently damaged.”
A kakapo expert from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation said it was important to allow other species to compete for the coveted title of bird of the year.
“New Zealand has a lot of fantastic birds, but sadly most of them are endangered,” community leader Louise Porter told AFP.
“There’s a lot of publicity for the winning bird of the year. Anything that gets the public involved in conservation is a good thing.”
The nocturnal and endangered kakapo is unique to New Zealand and can weigh up to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds), as much as a newborn human.
Previously on the brink of extinction, kakapo recently had their best breeding season in 50 years, boosting their numbers from 197 to 252.
“People call kakapo ‘the fattest parrot in the world,’ which is kind of mean — ‘the heaviest parrot’ is definitely nicer. They’re gorgeous,” Porter said.
“One of this year’s chicks weighs 3.2 kg, which is a very round ball with feathers.”
This year’s Bird of the Year will be announced on October 31.