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NZ’s only native bird of prey swoops ahead in bird stakes

Sep 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Article, News

THE New Zealand falcon, or karearea, is rarely seen in remote farmlands, but far more often on the back of the $20 note.

New Zealand’s only surviving bird of prey (pictured top right) is set to become this year’s Bird of the Year competition run by the Forest and Bird Society, which opened to the public last month.

With 703 out of 6662 public votes cast so far, it is leading by more than 60 votes.

With 627 votes, the kokako, a close relative of the extinct huia, is a close second.

The competition, which opened to the public this week and runs until October 10, is already set to start a war of the birds, with votes rolling in consistently.

Running in third is the morepork, with 429 votes.

It is known throughout New Zealand for being the only surviving native owl, and it’s self-proclaimed hoot.

The kaka is also a serious competitor, with 322 votes.

A native parrot to New Zealand, the kaka is known for its unique, screeching call and is fond of flying over valleys and nesting in high treetops.

It is famous for being very sociable, often flying in large groups and “gossiping”, and joining with the kea, a close relative.

Kaka campaign manager Rachel Anderson-Smith remains positive her bird will beat the kokako and other competitors this year.

“While the kokako is scarce and somewhat elitist, it will be the kaka that brings the strut back into New Zealand birdlife,” she says.

Mrs Anderson-Smith has dedicated a large amount of time to helping to raise awareness of the bird, which is breeding rapidly in Wellington’s Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

Prime Minister John Key and ACT leader John Banks have told the New Zealand Herald that they will vote for the ostrich.

Other popular contenders include the fantail, the kea, the tui, and the kakapo.

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