Monday 18 October 2021

Vote Bat for Bird of the Year

Every year, New Zealand Forest & Bird runs the native Bird of the Year contest, but this year features a special and controversial contender for the title, the Long-Tailed Bat or Pekapeka-Tou-Roa

"But it's not a bird!" I hear you cry, and to that I answer indeed, but it lives amongst birds and flies, and the point of the contest is to raise awareness around native species and their conservation. Many people don't even know our native bats exist, despite being New Zealand's only native land mammal. Our bats are critically endangered, the most vulnerable level before extinction. They're as rare as the Kakapo, winner of last year's contest, and also one of the rarest mammals in the world.

In Maori folklore, Pekapeka are associated with the mythical nocturnal bird Hokioi, which foretells death or disaster.

Photo: Colin O'Donnell (DOC)
Long-tailed bats have been in New Zealand for between 1 - 2 million years. They were common throughout the whole country in the 1800s, but were already becoming rare by 1930. Now, they number only in the hundreds. I've personally never seen one. Without a concerted preservation effort, they may be extinct within a decade. Fortunately, the Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird have been working hard to protect these tiny winged treasures.

Photo: Diana Noonan (This NZ Life)
Why are they so endangered? Long-tailed bats produce only one offspring per year, which cannot fly for the first few weeks of life. They are threatened due to habitat loss caused by logging, land development, and felling of their preferred old-age roost trees. They and particularly their offspring are vulnerable to attack by predators such as possums, stoats, and cats. A single feral cat can kill an entire colony.

Bats roost during the day in the hollows of native trees, under peeling bark, in tree stumps, in caves, or fractures in rocky bluffs. They are insectivores, enjoying mosquitoes, midges, moths, beetles, and other nocturnal flying insects. They weigh about 10g and are only the size of your thumb with a wingspan of about 25cm. Their echolocation is at such a low frequency that some people can hear it. They're social creatures, living in groups of 20-60.

In the contest, you can pick your five favourite birds in order, so by all means pick your other favourites as runners up, but I do urge you to give your top vote to the dear bat this year to help give them the attention they deserve and very much need. Voting begins on October 18th and closes on Halloween October 31st. Vote bat, and raise awareness of this critically endangered (and very cute) native creature to help keep them around. This year, trade feathers for fur and beaks for cute fanged snoots. Spread the word: vote bat for Bird of the Year. CAST YOUR VOTE HERE.

Other ways you can help:


  1. Voted and hope the Bat will win. 🦇🖤🖤🖤🖤🦇

  2. Voted but it says it’s a bird. I don’t know why and hope it’s for the sweet little bat

  3. Voted all the way from TN!! I hope the beautiful bat wins!!

  4. Voted for the bat in Alabama

  5. Thank you so much for this great article!
    If anyone wants to read more then I think this is the right place for you!

  6. Hello, yeah this post is actually pleasant and I have learned lot of things
    from it regarding blogging. thanks.
    Baccarat Casino