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New Zealand’s “Bird of The Year” Is A Drunk Pigeon

The kererū pigeon (scientific name: hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) has been crowned New Zealand’s bird of the year by independent conservation organization Forest & Bird.

The metallic green, grey and white pigeon, also known as kūkū or kūkūpa, won the popular vote with its picturesque flight aerobatics and reputation of constantly falling off trees. It feeds on rotten fruits and fermented treats, leaving it intoxicated. Forest & Bird describes the animal as “clumsy, drunk, gluttonous, and glamorous.”

The fairly large avifauna reaches around 50 cm. from tail to beak, and is the only surviving bird huge enough to swallow and disperse the big seeds of the miro, tawa, taraire, and karaka. It is a native wood pigeon (not to be confused with the wood pigeon of the Northern Hemisphere) endemic to New Zealand’s South and North islands.

  • Miro fruit, photo courtesy of teara.govt.nz.

Endorsed by Chlöe Swarbrick, leader of Green party, the kererū emerged victorious receiving 5,833 votes out of 48,000, besting the second placer the native kākāpō with 3,772 votes.

It’s been reported last 2009 that New Zealand has the most number of endangered and extinct birds in the world. While a lot of native species are struggling, the wood pigeon’s numbers appear to be doing well. Well enough for them to live a life of drunkenness.

Banner photo courtesy of rata.learnz.org.nz

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