New Zealand's Bird Of The Year Award Goes To The Country's Drunkest Bird

An absolute unit and occasional drunk, meet the kererū. JoshuaDaniel/Shutterstock

This is the kererū (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). It is clumsy, greedy and oftentimes drunk – and now it has the privilege of being crowned New Zealand's 2018 Bird of the Year. 

Bird of the Year is orchestrated by conservation group Forest and Bird to raise awareness for the 168 bird species living in New Zealand, a third of which are currently threatened with extinction. This year voter turnout was higher than ever with 48,000 votes cast in total – up 7,000 votes from 2017.


The ground-dwelling kākāpō (Strigops habroptila) earned second place with 3,772 votes, while the extremely rare kakī or black stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) came in at number three with 2,995 votes. However, the kererū, securing 5,833 votes, was the clear winner.

"New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly for change and the kererū pledges to honor this groundswell of popular opinion and govern for the man," Team kererū co-campaigner Tim Onnes announced in a public statement when news broke.

"Team kererū would like to thank the voting public for their support. It has been a long and arduous campaign and we couldn't have done without their support."


Kererūs are endemic to New Zealand and can be found across the country in woodland and urban areas. The bird, also known as the kukupa, Kuku, kokopa, and native pigeon, is a blue-green color with a purplish-bronze iridescence and red feet, eyes, and bill. While it is not currently on the endangered species list, it is vulnerable to attacks from non-native animals, including possums, stoats, and rats.


Perhaps the trait that earns the kererū the most infamy is its penchant for overripe fruit, which has been known to make birds tipsy. Intoxicated kererūs have been seen falling from trees and slamming into buildings. There are even wildlife centers in New Zealand where the little drunkards can be dropped off to sober up.

Like many elections these days, New Zealand's Bird of the Year competition is not immune to dirty politics and foreign intervention. While election meddling didn't quite reach the heights of last year's competition, moderators did have to discount 2,000 votes because they were found to be fraudulent or could be traced to Australia.

For the most part, however, behavior remained very civil with many celebrities weighing in with their thoughts on who should win Bird of the Year. (For the record, Bill Bailey is Team Takahe and Stephen Fry is cheering for the kākāpō.) The competition even made it onto Tinder where Shelly the kakī managed to get an impressive 500 matches. 

2018 marked the 14th anniversary of the Bird of the Year competition. Last year's winner was the kea but so far no bird has won the honor more than once.


You can find out where your favorite New Zealand native ranked in the results here.

Last year's winner - the photogenic kea ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock


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