BEAKING NEWS: Pūteketeke pandemonium prevails! The pūteketeke Australasian crested grebe has won Bird of the Century 2023 @lastweektonight— Forest & Bird (@Forest_and_Bird) November 14, 2023
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📹: Tom Sainsbury pic.twitter.com/Xd7FpaGEmy
The organization Forest & Bird in New Zealand hosts the Bird of the Year competition annually, and it's always a fierce competition. This year, the contest was renamed to Bird of the Century to celebrate the organization's 100th anniversary. And the winner is: the pūteketeke!
Also known as the Australasian crested grebe, this bird is known for eating its own feathers in order to puke up parasites. The pūteketeke also has a unique mating dance.
But the competition was not without controversy. The record number of votes prior to this year was 57,000, but this year, more than 350,000 votes came in, mostly due to a campaign by talk show host John Oliver, who pushed for the pūteketeke to win. The bird garnered 290,000 of those votes, even after thousands of fraudulent votes were excluded.
Some Kiwis are upset, citing foreign interference, while Forest & Bird is tickled by the global reach of the campaign. After all, the purpose of the contest is to draw attention to conservation efforts on behalf of endangered birds.
The Bird of the Year contest has ruffled feathers before. In 2020, it was a massive case of voter fraud, and in 2021, bird fans were upset that the winner was a bat.