29 Oct 2013

Mohua voted year's best bird

8:05 pm on 29 October 2013

The mohua, or yellowhead, has been crowned Bird of the Year for 2013.

The mohua is on the endangered species list.

The mohua is on the endangered species list. Photo: CRAIG McKENZIE

Nearly 13,000 votes were cast in the poll, with the ruru (morepork) coming in second and the southern rockhopper penguin in third place.

Forest and Bird, which organises the poll, says in the 1800s the mohua was one of the most abundant forest birds in the South Island and Stewart Island.

However, it is now on the endangered species list, due to habitat loss, predation and climate change.

Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell says the mohua populations have suffered recently because a series of warm summers have caused beech trees to mast, or produce large volumes of seeds, more frequently.

Mr Hackwell says that causes a spike in rat numbers eating the seeds, which in turn causes a rise in stoat numbers which eat the rats. Once they're gone, stoats target mohua and other native birds.