Things Heat Up For Australia's Inaugural Bird Of The Year Competition

White Ibis or "Bin Chicken" Corrie Barnard/Shutterstock

This week, Australia's inaugural Bird of the Year competition was launched. The venture is a joint effort from the Guardian Australia and BirdLife, an international conservation organization, and is intended to celebrate the country's distinctive bird population while raising awareness for the threats they currently face thanks to habitat destruction and global warming.

The team behind the poll have listed 51 Australian birds for voters to chose from. If your favorite didn't make the cut, there's no need to worry – write-in candidates are being accepted.


Politicians, musicians, and other famous faces have been getting involved, announcing which critter can count on their support.

In case you're interested, the federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, will be casting his vote for the emu. (Maybe in tribute to the bird that waged war against humanity – and won.)


And Scott Ludlam, who you might remember had to resign in summer when it was revealed he had dual citizenship, first voiced support for the Carnaby's black cockatoo but has since changed his mind and declared allegiance to the white ibis, lovingly nicknamed the Bin Chicken. (Watch a fabulous Planet Earth parody featuring the Bin Chicken here.)


Meanwhile, Australian EDM duo, Peking Duk, have shown their support for the lyrebird. The male lyrebird attracts female by sampling the songs of nearby birds (much like a DJ) so it perhaps not all that surprising it got the musicians' stamp of approval.


But – as with any election nowadays – the Bird of the Year poll has not escaped its fair share of scandal. Regulators have had to delete a "large number" of votes for the powerful owl after "suspicious voting activity was detected" on Monday and "further investigation identified automated voting for this bird".

The perpetrators were undeterred by the investigation and a second (unsuccessful) attempt at automated voting was made on Tuesday.


Despite its very modest background, the white ibis is the favorite to win, wracking up more than 15,000 of the votes so far. Let's just say there have been some mixed feelings regarding its success.




If you were hoping for a more exotic runner-up, prepare for disappointment. The much-maligned magpie is in second place, securing over 10,000 votes so far. 


Australia's Bird of the Year competition comes a month after New Zealand's but has yet to reach the levels of dirty politics its predecessor experienced (think: vote-rigging, trolls, and an Instagram smear campaign).

Polls don't close until December 9, so there's still time.


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