the great NZ bird competition

The Great NZ Bird Question
"If you were stranded on a remote island and could only have one NZ bird for company,
which would you choose and why?"

Web Conservation Great Bird Comp
This is the question we put to you in a facebook competition - and whoa...did we open a proverbial can of worms! Nearly 600 responses, including many quirky answers, personal anecdotes and awesome pictures, flooded our page. We were overwhelmed by the level of engagement there was to our silly question! After many hours spent reading each and every answer, some really interesting things about us, and our birds, started to reveal themselves...

Firstly, we have so many cool birds! Everything from the extinct Haast Eagle to the unexpected Oyster Catcher to the much-maligned Weka to the glorious Albatross got a mention. Of course, there were many in attendance we expected to see too, such as the soulful-sounding Kokako, the critically endangered Kakapo and the cheeky little Robins we are personally so fond of.

Some non-native's snuck in as well (probably because we didn't specify they had to be native, oops!), like the colourful Rosella, the introduced Goldfinch, the common sparrow and even a pet chicken! (Who apparently has residency because she was born here, so we can let that slide!) Then there were the surprises by omission - our populous Waxeye was absent, so too was our bright Mohua (Yellowhead) and the gorgeous Kotuku/White Heron didn't make an appearance in our poll either.

But the thing that struck us the most about these responses was the sheer strength of connection we, as New Zealander's, feel about our native birds. So many of the answers included a story about a particular species being chosen because of the connection it gave the respondent to a beloved one who was no longer with them, or because they sparked a memory from childhood, or to many who lived overseas, our birdsong just reminded them of Home.

According to a recent study of what is considered to be the most important aspect of 'New Zealandness', the number 1 defining characteristic of being kiwi is a relationship with the land. New Zealanders’ sense of self-definition is heavily bound up with a love of the natural world, to the point where it could be considered spiritual. Which is certainly reflected in the stories above and to take that a step further, if these answers are anything to go by, we feel confident in saying that our unique birdlife is intrinsically woven into our national identity too. After all, what would New Zealand be without our birds?

We have to say we are incredibly heart-warmed to see how many of you have a deep love and appreciation for our native feathered friends, and that you shared this love and your stories with us too. We feel immense affection for our birdlife also, which is why it is one of our chief missions to help save these precious species. It's why we have raised funds to carry out environmental projects (with your help!) and also why we donate a percentage of our web and shop sales to their ongoing protection.

Thank you for your support and participation - we really feel like we have found 'our people' in this, and are buzzing with excitement at the potential we have to make some conservation magic together. Please keep reading to find out the winners of our competition, and have a good nosy around our conservation page to learn about our goal to help save our native species.

Though truly...we actually want to our birds to be the winners at the end of the day, and if you do too then please continue to support their preservation in any way you can!

As for which bird was most popular? Well we can tell you that the Tui and the Kea really battled it out for second place, so much so that we couldn't determine who came out best in the end. But the clear winner, by a perky and chirpy mile, was our delicious little fantail (and not for eating either!). Their friendly and curious nature, their proximity to most New Zealander's and their sweet and chirpy sounds have most definitely won a place in many of our hearts x
Web Conservation Fantail Nga Manu Images
Image credit: Nga Manu Images

*The winner of our "Which NZ bird..." competition is Toni Richards, who receives a $250 Chalky Voucher. The winner of our W16 Email Newsletter Draw worth $500 is Anthea Hill. Because of the amazing level of responses we received, we also wanted to select a couple of runners-up in the bird draw and so we chose the following two entrants based solely on their funny answers giving us the most laughs in the Chalky office: Amanda Banks and Paula Miller - a $50 voucher will be coming your way once we have trawled through the tricky facebook channels and found you - congratulations!

The Future of Conservation In NZ

Listen to our Endangered Species Ambassador Nic Toki speaking about the inextricable link between our native wildlife and NZ's national identity -  and the future of conservation in New Zealand on Radio New Zealand here...
Web Conservation NicTokiRNZ

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