Monday, 26 October 2015, 11:01 am
Bar-tailed godwit (kuaka) crowned Bird of the Year
26 October 2015
The bar-tailed godwit (kuaka) has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year after three weeks of close competition, heated campaigning and scandal.
These lunatic long-distance fliers have the longest migratory flight of any bird in the world, and travel over 11,000 kilometres from Alaska to reach New Zealand in less than 9 days.
Between 80,000 - 100,000 godwits begin arriving in the country from late September with most heading for the Kaipara and Manukau harbours, the Firth of Thames, Farewell Spit, and the Avon–Heathcote estuary.
Campaign manager for the bar-tailed godwit, Keith Woodley from the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre, says the long flight takes its toll and birds will lose half their body weight during the trip.
"When they get here, they look absolutely exhausted. The first thing they do is have a drink to rehydrate and then they go to sleep. Eventually, they start feeding to make up for the huge amount of weight they lose during their flight." said Woodley.