The kakapo has become New Zealand Bird of the Year for the second time. The endangered parrot species delivered this unparalleled feat after a fraud-ridden poll.
Birds only occur on islands without predators
Kakapos also took the honor in 2008. New Zealand’s annual bird contest, first held in 2005, is immensely popular and, according to organizers, has led to more attention for the country’s unique natural areas and animal species.
The ‘mighty moskip’, as the clownish kakapo is also called, cannot fly and is a nocturnal animal. Kakapos are the heaviest and longest living parrots in the world.
The animal reproduces slowly and builds nests on the ground. Kakapos smell like “the inside of a clarinet bag, musty and with notes of wood and resin,” and defend themselves against predators by standing still and “looking like a bush,” an organization spokesman said. The Guardian.
“Those traits worked well in the bird islands where the kakapo evolved, but they don’t fool imported predators like weasels, cats and rats.”
In the 1990s, only 50 kakapos were left. After rescue attempts, the population is now 213 birds. The birds once lived all over the country, but now only occur on islands without predators.
Male kakapos emit a loud, shrill cry to attract females. Sirocco, one of the males, achieved worldwide fame in 2009 by a BBC-program to make love with the mind of a zoologist.
The ballot box was marked by several scandals this year. An erotic retailer campaigned for support for the polyamorous yellow-banded honey-eater, and the little gray kiwi received 1,500 votes in one evening, all coming from the same IP address.
The also endangered Antipode Albatross finished in second place. Organizers expressed their hope that this bird does not feel “robbed”, a reference to the aftermath of the last US presidential election.