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Bird election overflows with votes: ‘booking’ pūteketeke wins

Bird election overflows with votes: ‘booking’ pūteketeke wins

New Zealand bird of the century wins 74 birds. In recent years, around 60,000 people have voted for their favorite bird, this time around 350,000 votes from 195 countries.

As the counting of votes took a long time, the announcement of the winning bird had to be postponed for two days.


The budgetke, a type of grebe, won with flying colors: the bird received 290,374 votes. In second place came the national pride of New Zealand: the Kiwi (12,904 votes).

“Pūteketeke has always been an outsider, but won because of its unique appearance and tendency to throw,” writes Forest & Bird, the organization behind the annual poll. “So we’re not surprised that its charming qualities have attracted an influential bird lover with a huge following.”

That influential bird lover was British-American talk show host John Oliver. On his TV show Last Week Tonight he focused on ‘that strange vomiting bird with the colorful mat’. The bird is known to eat hundreds of feathers and then spit them out.

Vigorous election campaigning

Oliver Bird wanted to win the election in ‘historic fashion’ and so launched a ‘shockingly aggressive’ election campaign. He put up billboards in New Zealand, Japan, France, India and the US state of Wisconsin.

“Help us crown a real king” was the slogan of the campaign in Britain. A plane with a pūteketeke advertisement flies over the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“This is what democracy is: America meddling in foreign elections,” Oliver joked on his TV show, where a metre-high version of pūteketeke was also staged.

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More fuss

This is not the first time that this election has made global headlines. For example, in 2020, a small gray kiwi was rigged to win. Two years ago a bat escaped with victory.

Last year, the popular Kakapo was barred from participating ‘to give less attractive candidates a chance’.