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Bird of the year is here!

Voting is about to open for the fiercest, most exciting competition in Aotearoa – Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year.

The competition to elect the nation’s favourite bird has been heating up with alliances, rivalries, and meme-wars taking over the internet.

In a new twist to the competition, the voting system has changed. Instead of a First Past the Post system, voters can now rank up to five birds, similar to STV voting.

“The new voting system means no one has the torturous job of picking just one favourite from all the incredible birds that call Aotearoa home. And the ranking system has given rise to some clever new campaign strategies,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Megan Hubscher.

“A ‘penguin party’ has been negotiated between the different penguin species, with some powerful backers involved. Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium is supporting the hoiho/yellow eyed penguin, while Wellington Zoo is hoping to help out Wellington’s tiny sushi lovers, the kororā/little blue.

“There are also underdog coalitions being formed, with Team tuturuatu/shore plover and Team hihi/stitchbird hoping to stitch up the competition with a two tick campaign.”

“Meanwhile, the Gibson’s albatross has some serious backing, with the Minister of Conservation herself on its campaign team.”

Our personal favourite is the teeny tiny titipounamu, or stitchbird. Fully grown, New Zealand’s smallest birds weigh in at about 6 grams each – less than a $1 coin. Their chicks grow inside an egg roughly 16 by 12 millimetres in size – about the size of a large pinky-fingernail. We think these are a good contrast to last years ‘whoosh-whoosh’ winners, the kererū (or fat bois in singlets as they are more commonly known) who swept to glory with an overwhelming victory.

Bird lovers can cast their votes from 9am, on Monday 28 October at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz, and will have two weeks to make a final decision on their top five birds. The winning bird will be announced on Monday 11 November.

All the online campaigning can be followed at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz/social