The kererū has swooped to victory in the Bird of the Year competition for the first time.
Amassing 5833 votes, the wood pigeon held on to its early lead despite strong challenges from the kākāpō and the kakī.
The kākāpō was runner up with 3772 votes and the kakī (black stilt) came in third with 2995 votes.
Watch Forest & Bird's Megan Hubscher announcing the winner on Morning Report:
The kererū population is classed as stable overall, but it is in danger of becoming locally extinct in some areas where there has not been sustained predator control.
The fate of many forests is linked to that of the kererū, as it is the only native bird big enough to swallow and disperse the large fruit of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire, competition organiser Forest & Bird says.
Team Kererū campaigners, who included Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, focused on the bird's size and appetite, sparking some online rivalry over which native bird is the roundest.
I've seen them gobbling down loquats. Those berries don't stand a chance. pic.twitter.com/lNqhxyEzoY— Eleanor Goldsmith (@zaichishka) October 11, 2018
Back from hiatus! This week, I report on NZ's annual #BirdOfTheYear contest, why the birds of #NewZealand are so special, why they're disappearing, and why I voted for #TeamTakahe, the roundest boi, the absolute unit of NZ birds.https://t.co/iVq7W8o4dS pic.twitter.com/FkBM8mUHcp— The Wild Focus Project (@WildFocusTweets) October 12, 2018
The competition prompted celebrity endorsements from Stephen Fry for the kākāpō, and from comedian Bill Bailey for the takahē.
Bird of the Year also featured on Tinder for the first time, with Shelly the kakī (black stilt) attracting 500 matches across New Zealand.
Reason #9 to #Vote4Kakī during #BirdOfTheYear. Kakī are #fierce. ☑️ out these juveniles having a wee squabble over the sunniest spot ☀️ @SouthproudNZ @ChiefScienceAdvisor @Forest_and_Bird @SevenSharp @DOCTSAmbassador @OSNZBirdsNZ @UCNZ @otago @BlackStiltWines @NZStuff pic.twitter.com/TV6RRRgRFs— Vote for Kakī (@vote4kaki) October 8, 2018
This year's contest wasn't immune to a bit of attempted foul play, with Forest and Bird discounting some last minute fake votes for the kakī (black stilt). IP addresses in Australia had sent through over 300 votes for the shag, and then over 1500 for the kakī.
We are aware of the attempted fake votes that came in for kakī over the weekend but have processes in place to ensure they won't be counted in the final result. Check https://t.co/cjN6uY9V8y at 9am tomorrow for the official results. #BirdOfTheYear https://t.co/NCYS8BGNEP— Forest & Bird (@Forest_and_Bird) October 14, 2018
What's that? We've passed 800 votes?— Vote Banded Dotterel (@VoteBandie) October 10, 2018
It's true!! We have passed 800 votes
That means we are nearly at 1000, and have already passed our total from last year.
Go #VoteBandie in #BirdOfTheYear to push us over 1000 votes! https://t.co/cFeQ5f9Yw4 pic.twitter.com/TErd0ZfBpW
This year was the competition's most popular yet. It attracted over 48,000 votes, up from 41,000 in 2017.
Last year's winner was the kea, and previous titleholders include the fairy tern and mōhua.