Controversy As ‘Bird Of The Year’ Contest Is Won By A Mammal

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 04 Nov 2021 18:40
Controversy As 'Bird Of The Year' Contest Is Won By A MammalAlamy

A ‘Bird Of The Year’ contest has sparked backlash after it crowned a mammal as its winner. 

More than 100 countries got involved in the contest, with 58,000 people voting – a record for the competition.


Not everyone is happy with the result, however.

Bat Wins Bird of Year - Alamy Alamy

It may be winged and have the ability to fly, but in this battle for ‘Bird of the Year’, a bat reigned supreme.

The Pekapeka-tou-roa is a long-tailed bat best known for its small size and how it is one of a few land mammals native to New Zealand.


However, the unassuming breed of bat was thrust into the spotlight when conservationist group Forest and Bird included it within its bird contest, where it gained a hefty amount of votes.

The bat took the contest by storm with a 3,000-vote lead on the birds, Sky News reports.

The bat’s wingspan stretches the length of a human hand and its overall size is compared as being to that of a human thumb.

It is reported that the bat was entered into the competition in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats it faces because of its size.


Forest and Bird declared the win ‘outstanding’, considering many don’t know the endemic land mammal even exists.

Lissy Fehnker-Heather told Radio New Zealand

This year, we thought we’ll try and get more people aware of bats and the threats that they face.


Due to ‘habitat loss and introduced predators’ the bats are in danger of being in ‘serious trouble’.

However, not everyone was happy with the small mammal’s win, taking to Twitter to contest the results of the competition. One said, ‘I thought Bird of the Year should actually be you know a bird?! What’s winning next year, a fish?’

Another wrote:


I am deeply disappointed in this. Sure, raising awareness for conservation is an admirable goal, but the Bird of the Year should be a BIRD.

This is worse than last year’s voter fraud, and has eroded faith in the Democratic process. #BlackBilledGull #SeaBirdsNotTreeBirds (or bats)

A third commented, ‘Bat Wins Bird of Year! As stupid as Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest. Next year I suppose PharLap will be a contestant in Living Bird of the Year.’

Fehnker-Heather remained unfazed by the backlash, claiming that it ‘wouldn’t be the Bird of the Year without some scandal’.

Her comments follow another incident that occurred in 2019, in which a flood of votes from Russia resulted in accusations of vote rigging. However, the claims were later dismissed when the votes were proven to be valid.

Despite the controversy that has plagued the victorious bats, Fehnker-Heather noted that other species are not being ruled out as being put forward in future competitions.

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Topics: Animals, Birds, New Zealand


Sky News
  1. Sky News

    New Zealand: Bird of the year controversy after contest is won by a bat