The fairy tern has won the New Zealand Seabird of the Year poll, after three weeks of close competition.
The poll is run by the independent conservation charity Forest & Bird.
The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin.
The co-campaign manager for the fairy tern, conservationist and author Wade Doak, says the fairy tern’s win is great news for the species, and for the people who work so hard to protect it.
“Sadly, the dwindling numbers of fairy tern are disproportionate to their popularity, with only between 8-10 breeding pairs of the birds left,” says Wade Doak.
“However the upside is that there are plenty of people who are prepared to go to great lengths to save the fairy tern. Regardless of the conditions at Mangawhai Heads, you’ll almost always find a solitary figure – sitting on an upturned bucket – guarding a fairy tern colony.
“The courage and devotion of the public to saving these birds is incredible. Which is fortunate, because it’s entirely up to us as to whether the birds will survive,” Wade Doak says.