Bird of the year competition

Gareth MorganEnvironment

When asked to support a bird for The Bird of the Year Competition it was an easy choice – the Sooty Shearwater or Titi won hands down.

The Kiwi may be our national icon, but all they do is eat roots and leaves. Is that really representative of our country’s culture? We don’t think so. We think the sooty shearwater is. Why?

They are globetrotters – titi encapsulate the spirit of many young New Zealanders who want to get out and explore the world. Every winter the sooty shearwater does an OE, starting with a trip to South America then up to the northern hemisphere to feed off the coast of Alaska and Japan. Pretty impressive for a little muttonbird (young sooty shearwater) that managed to escape being caught and eaten for dinner.

They are the athletes of the bird kingdom – they fly a 65,000 km round trip every year! Compare that to the kereru which is so fat it has to climb a tree to take off, whereas the kakapo is just a plain old couch potato.

It’s cheeky – what 12 year old boy doesn’t like a bird called a Titi?

They have a work ethic – the muttonbird (the young of the sooty shearwater) are a delicacy in Invercargill supermarkets. This plucky bird has been able to withstand human harvesting, something no other native bird has achieved.

Finally the sooty shearwater remind us of the importance of our southern islands and the multiple challenges facing conservation: the number of burrows in the largest colony (on the Snares islands) declined by 37% between 1969-2000. The possible reasons include climate change, getting tangled in fishing nets and pests threatening their young (including humans).

So join us and vote for the Sooty Shearwater as the Bird of the Year.

Bird of the year competition was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

Facebook Twitter

Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.