Comedian Raybon Kan can't stop trash talking his competitors even though he backed the right bird.
His beloved karearea, or New Zealand falcon, has been crowned Forest & Bird's 2012 Bird of the Year.
Under the banner "NZ's got talons", Kan mounted a relentless campaign for the "noble" karearea, which he likens to an avian Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis.
Celebrities including Te Radar and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman were also in the running backing other birds, but Kan said all the other birds were like "fraudulent sickness beneficiaries" compared with the karearea.
"Other birds are cute and a bit unco. In fact, they're downright remedial and they're playing the sympathy card asking for a handout from the government. Times are tough and people want a symbol. Other birds are embarrassing."
Kan's karearea tallied 1261 of 10,292 votes when the polls closed yesterday.
The falcon is already famous for fronting the $20 note and is also known for its airborne agility. With a top speed of 230kmh it snatches prey mid-flight - late last month a karearea was snapped in the Wellington suburb of Berhampore feasting on a feckless pigeon.
Columnist David Slack campaigned for the kokako, which racked up 965 votes, making the songbird the karearea's nearest rival.
Kan was unforgiving in his appraisal of the silver medallist. "It just represents birds that are more of a stuffed toy, or more of a busker than the leader with libido - that's what the karearea is.
"You can either be just standing on the street corner hoping for a handout because of your song or you can be a fighter pilot doing aerobatics and striking fear into the hearts of criminals."
However, the karearea's aerial prowess and slaying skills betray a vulnerable side.
Recent Conservation Department research suggests New Zealand falcons are less able to defend their nest from predators than was thought.
The adult karearea nests on rocky ledges or the ground, leaving it open to attack from cats, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels and possums.
BIRD OF THE YEAR 2012
1. NZ falcon/karearea 1261
2. Kokako 965
3. Ruru/morepork 663
4. Kaka 598
5. Kakapo 461
6. Fantail/piwakawaka 458
7. Kea 436
8. Tui 399
9. Yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho 395
10. Kereru 347
Previous winners: tui (2005), fantail (2006), grey warbler (2007), kakapo (2008), kiwi (2009), kakariki (2010) and pukeko (2011).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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