New Zealand bird of the year: ‘drunk, gluttonous’ kereru pigeon wins

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Often heard before it is find, the kerer has been known to fall out of the odd tree after too much fermented fruit

A native green and bronze wood pigeon with a taste for fermented fruit has been named the 2018 bird of the year in New Zealand.

The kereru is endemic to the country and can be found in both the North and South islands, living in cities as well as rural areas. Although quiet and reclusive by nature, kereru have earned a reputation as the drunkest bird in New Zealand, and been known to fall from trees after ingesting rotting fruit left lying on the ground. During the summer when fruit is in abundance drunk kereru are sometimes taken to wildlife centres to sober up .~ ATAGEND

Described by conservation group Forest and Bird as” clumsy, drunk, gluttonous and glamorous ,” the Kereru population is not endangered, but is vulnerable to attacks by predators such as feral cats and stoats, and also competes with possums for food.

Kereru play an essential role in dispersing the seeds of native New Zealand species such as karaka, miro, tawa and taraire across big areas, because they are one of the few birds large enough to swallow the fruit whole.

It was the clear leader in the poll, with 5,833 votes. The kakapo came second with 3,772 and the Kaki or black stilt, an extremely rare bird that is raised by hand, coming third with 2,995 votes.

The kereru has been known to fall out of the occasional tree. Photograph: Ross Land/ Getty Images

The competition, are governed by Forest and Bird, is in its 14 th year, and pits the country’s rare and endangered birds against one another. No bird has won twice, and this year comprehend the highest voter turnout on record, despite 2,000 referendums being disposed after they were found to be fraudulent and originating from Australia.

More than 48,000 elections were cast this year, up from 41,000 in 2017.

Overseas celebrity endorsements from Stephen Fry for the kakapo, and comedian Bill Bailey for the takahe upped the stakes in this year’s competitor, with bird of the year also featuring on Tinder for the first time, with Shelly the kaki, or black stilt, attracting 500 matches across the country.

Although she voted for the black petrel( taiko ), prime minister Jacinda Ardern quickly offered the kereru her congratulations.

Jacinda Ardern (@ jacindaardern)

I salute you, @Kereru4PM #BirdOfTheYear

October 14, 2018

Kimberley Collins (@ kimi_collins)

Actual footage captured earlier today of kereru celebrating its #BirdOfTheYear win after a few fermented berries. STlgoP5SiS

October 14, 2018

Forest& Bird (@ Forest_and_Bird)

Your #BirdOfTheYear for 2018 is that absolute division, the roundest boi, the devourer of fruit, the whooshiest of whooshes, the mighty keruru. A big round of applause for the kereru, as well as for @Kereru4PM who ran a top campaign. https :// BMjEN8Pymp Lsf3w 0FKGA

October 14, 2018

” The kereru is one of our most recognisable birds, it is often heard before it is assured ,” Forest& Bird’s Megan Hubscher told Radio NZ .” It is one of our few birds that is doing OK. Only one in five of New Zealand’s native birds are increasing in number or stable, 80% are diminish. But the kereru is doing pretty well .”

Hubscher said there were some regions of the country where kereru was not doing well- including Northland- and this was largely down to poor predator control.

However in other parts of the country where populations are flourishing- such as the capital city of Wellington- road signs warn motorists to be careful because of flying kereru, which can cause serious damage because of their size and weight.

Kereru used to be hunted for their meat and plumages, but they are now protected and it is illegal to hunt them.

Some Maori tribes are given permission by the department of conservation to use the bones and featherings of kereru for culture reasons, and reports ofthe birds being eaten for special occasionsarise occasionally.

There are 168 bird species in New Zealand and about a third are threatened with extinction, with dozens more on the endangered listing. Some species have dwindled to a few hundred someones tucked away in isolated pockets of the country.

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