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A bird a day…

Bird of the year



​Every year, I have a great time getting involved with the memes and fun of Forest and Bird’s “Bird of the Year” competition, but as they state on their website, there’s a serious message behind the fun.

Sadly, many of New Zealand’s native birds are in crisis. Two thirds of our birds are threatened with extinction. Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year celebrates our unique birds and with each vote you help give them a voice.”

And every year, I try to draw some more native birds, both to celebrate them, and to bring their plight to the attention of more people. Here at Copper Catkin HQ, we are surrounded by birds to the extent that we have even called our home “Te Rerenga Manu”, the flight of the birds.

Previous bird designs

I have drawn several native New Zealand birds over the years; they are all well-known stars of many a kiwiana design – which reminds me that I haven’t even blogged about some of them, facepalm. 




This year, I decided to run a poll on my Facebook page, and the consensus was: do some of the lesser-known and more endangered species. 

A bird a (week-)day

As those who follow us on social media will probably have noticed, we are still cranking through a lot of property maintenance and decluttering at the weekend, so my bird-drawing activities will probably be restricted to weekdays. 23 birds is a big target, though, so I may cheat a little and do more than one when the mood takes me, if time and other commitments allow!

​I am using this list, sourced from DOC, to guide my choices, and to avoid the temptation to cherry-pick, I will be working in alphabetical order. 

Nationally Critical
Most severely threatened, facing an immediate high risk of extinction:

  1. Antipodean wandering albatross/toroa
  2. Australasian bittern/matuku-hūrepo
  3. Chatham Island black robin
  4. Black stilt/kakī
  5. Black-billed gull/tarāpuka
  6. Chatham Island oystercatcher/tōrea tai
  7. Chatham Island shag
  8. Chatham Island tāiko
  9. Gibson’s wandering albatross/toroa
  10. Grey duck/pārera
  11. Haast tokoeka
  12. Kākāpō
  13. Kermadec white-faced storm petrel
  14. New Zealand fairy tern/tara iti
  15. Orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karaka
  16. Pacific white tern 
  17. Pitt Island shag
  18. Rock wren/pīwauwau
  19. Salvin’s albatross/toroa
  20. Shore plover/tuturuatu
  21. South Georgian diving petrel
  22. Southern New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu
  23. White heron/kōtuku

As a research resource, I will also be using NZ birds online.

I am very grateful for these resources, and of course, any errors or anatomical innacuracies are entirely mine. 

An advent calendar of sorts

With the total number of birds being 23, it’s very close to the traditional Christian Advent Calendar format (the ones that start on December 1) of 24 days. The term “advent” is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”, so the calendars are used as a form of countdown to the Christmas celebrations, and the birth, or advent, of the Christian messiah, Jesus Christ.

We are very much not a religious household, but this recognisable format is a good vehicle for the message that another advent is moving ominously closer – the extinction of many precious species, both here in Aotearoa and all over the world.  

Tell me what to draw!

​So, what bird should take spot #24? 

  • the first bird in the next category, “Nationally Endangered (facing high risk of extinction in the short term)”, the Antipodes Island snipe
  • the winner of Bird of the Year 2019
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