Canberra, Oct 8 | After almost two weeks of daily voting and eliminations from a shortlist of 50 of Australia’s most iconic and beloved birds, the superb fairywren was named as the country’s Bird of the Year on Friday.
The small bird accrued a whopping 13,998 votes in its final tally, reports Xinhua news agency.
The male fairywren has a rich blue and black plumage above its throat while females are largely brown with a red-orange area around their eyes and are a familiar sight in Australia’s urban parks and gardens.
The tawny frogmouth won the second place with 13,332 votes while the Gang-gang cockatoo in third place had 12,836 votes.
Birdlife Australia said this year a total of 450,000 votes were counted over the course of the competition.
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of New South Wales Will Cornwell said the competition was a great way for everyday Australians to engage with native birdlife and also highlights their cultural significance.
“I think conservation wise, activating people’s kind of cultural affinity for birds is really powerful. It is all positive,” he told Xinhua.
He said that Australia’s unique and diverse gamut of birdlife has long been baked into the nation’s culture.
“European settlers started to develop a sense that the birds, the native birds, are actually quite special… The traditional owners (Aboriginal Australians) who’ve been here for a much longer period of time already were well aware of this.”
He said that the competition has also drawn to light the fact that while some birds are considered a pest, like the magpie, which came in ninth and is known for swooping passers-by, people still form a relationship with them.
“Obviously, the magpie has mixed effects. But it’s a bird that lots of people see on a day-to-day basis and have… almost kind of relationships with (them), and that is kind of important.”
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