10 Reasons to Love ‘Bird of the Year’

…and why we should have ‘Critter of the Year”

Posted by @mc_stanley1

When you’re completely swamped and just trying to get through the day hour by hour, hoping to find Hermione Granger’s time-turner, how do you get through the massive stress of being overloaded*?

The answer for me this week has been NZ ‘Bird of The Year’.

Bird of the Year voting has filled Twitter with the most amazing positive energy and opportunities to smile.

Here’s why I think ‘Bird of the Year’ is awesome:

  1. It’s a stress-relieving reward: “If I just finish marking this assignment, I can have a sneaky peek at the hilarious memes” (healthier for mind & body than food rewards!)
meme

Two of the of many awesome memes – check out whio & weka memes too!

2. Breaks down stereotypes – it’s a brilliant opportunity to showcase that scientists are creative, and funny. Scientists such as Stephanie Galla and Josie Galbraith show us that science and art go hand-in-hand (I’m jealous).

 

kaki

Art by Josie Galbraith, Auckland War Memorial Museum (Left) and Stephanie Galla, University of Canterbury (Right)

3. #Scicomm (science communication) is increasingly important in an age where there is a distrust in science among some groups. Ecologists throughout NZ are developing their fledgling #scicomm wings this week and communicating the incredible reasons why these birds are important. While some are old hands at this.

Here’s a couple:

Josie Galbraith on the numbers of Kakī left in the wild: “There are probably more cats on your street than that, more cocopops in your bowl, more lone socks in your drawers.”

tinder

Stephanie Galla’s  genius scicomm – explaining the kakī captive breeding programme by putting kakī on Tinder.

4. What biodiversity in Aotearoa-New Zealand needs is for people to care. And people to care enough to do something about it. We need people other than us biodiversity nerds to care and that means engaging people other than our own peer groups. The Bird of Year has seen some high profile supporters, including the Prime Minister (Black Petrel – ‘the bogan bird’), raise the profile of their chosen species – reaching more New Zealanders we could ever do alone.

comedians

While Bill Bailey and Stephen Fry are onboard, #TeamKakī tries desperately to attract Sam Neil @TwoPaddocks attention, while #TeamHihi are trying to win over Hilary Barry @Hilary_Barry. Come on Sam!

5. Talking to people about why they are voting for a particular species is fascinating and tells us something about nature connection. Some examples:

  • ‘I’m not voting for something I’ve never seen’
  • ‘That bird doesn’t need a profile, not voting for that’
  • ‘It’s won before, it [kakapo] should be deleted’
  • ‘It’s not even endangered’
  • ‘I like an underdog’
  • ‘A robin almost stood on my shoe – it was so cool’
  • ‘But it’s got a tiny head and beady red eyes’
  • ‘They shouldn’t lump all the shags together, no one can connect with a lumpy shag

6. Tea room battles: again with the people interaction – it’s fascinating watching the tearoom come alive with fiery debate about which bird should win (& why you shouldn’t jump ship just because your bird didn’t win last year).

7. Because kakī have to win:

No other native bird is more kiwi than the kakī.  They wear an all black jersey, and every day is Red Socks Day. Josie Galbraith

8. Because who doesn’t love a scandal?

scandal

This has opened up a whole thread on Australians and shags – great mid-marking silliness

9. Because it paves the way for Critter of the Year! Yes New Zealand! No one can possibly wait another year for the enjoyment Bird of the Year has brought us! We need to vote on the forgotten fauna – the freaky but awesome Peripatus, the Otaaaaaaaago skink, and the glorious Powelliphanta snail. Come on NZ Entomological Society! Forest & Bird! RNZ! #CritteroftheWeek

And finally…

10. Because of this:

sad birds

 

IMG_9315 (2)Dr Margaret Stanley is an Associate Professor in Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland and is the programme director of the Masters in Biosecurity and Conservation. Her interests in terrestrial community ecology are diverse, but can be grouped into three main research strands: urban ecology; invasion ecology; and plant-animal interactions.

* besides having an awesome husband who steps up to do far more than his share of kid duty 🙂

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