New Zealand has some weird birds, and they know it. Sure, you’ve probably seen the Seussian kiwi, but what about the kākāpo, a flightless parrot that looks like a particularly friendly owl? Have you heard of the morepork, an owl so named because it sounds like it shouts “MORE PORK,” or the wrybill, the only bird with a crooked beak? But only one bird could be the bird of the year, so the country voted for the kererū, the drunken New Zealand wood pigeon.
New Zealand conservation group Forest & Bird runs the bird of the year campaign to raise awareness for the island nation’s birds, many of which are quite strange looking. The kererū is the campaign’s 14th winner, and the winner we all deserve.
“They have quite a reputation of being large and clumsy and being a bit of a clown,” Forest & Bird’s Megan Hubscher told the BBC.
Here’s a video of a (presumably drunk) kererū hanging from a tree:
The bird’s reputation comes from its love of fruit. Fruit inevitably ferments, which can intoxicate the birds. You may be familiar with another recent bout of bird drunkenness, in which a Minnesota town’s police department issued a statement notifying its residents of a drunken bird problem. American birds like robins and cedar waxwings also inadvertently intoxicate themselves on their fruit diet.
Your #BirdOfTheYear for 2018 is that absolute unit, the roundest boi, the devourer of fruit, the whooshiest of whooshes, the mighty kerurū. A big round of applause for the kererū, as well as for @Kereru4PM who ran a top campaign. https://t.co/BMjEN8Pymp pic.twitter.com/Lsf3w0FKGA
— Forest & Bird (@Forest_and_Bird) October 14, 2018
Kererūs aren’t endangered like many of New Zealand’s other birds, though they still face threats from invasive species like rats. The island shares a special relationship with its birds, given its many unique species. Perhaps 71 per cent of New Zealand’s 245 bird species were endemic—meaning not found anywhere else on Earth—before humans arrived.
This year’s contest brought in 48,000 votes, campaign efforts from Stephen Fry and prime minister Jacinda Ardern, lots of memes, and even a sabotage attempt. But the votes weren’t even close: The kererū took the top spot with 5,833 votes, compared to the kākāpo’s 3,772 and the black stilt’s 2,995. The kiwi netted only 489 votes. Relive the magic by taking a look at the #BirdOfTheYear Twitter hashtag.
Let this inspire you to learn about New Zealand’s trove of strange feathered friends. Many face threats from human development. And we certainly don’t want to lose this: