New Zealand has crowned a bird that grunts, pukes and has a highly unusual repertoire of mating rituals as its bird of the century.
The threatened Australasian crested grebe, or pūteketeke, was thrown into the global spotlight by a powerful backer, British-American comedian and talkshow host John Oliver.
The announcement for the annual two-week contest’s winner was delayed by two days after the competition was inundated with votes, following Oliver’s announcement during an episode of Last Week Tonight in the US, that he was appointing himself the official campaign manager for the pūteketeke.
His campaign included buying up billboards in New Zealand, Japan, France, the UK, India and the US state of Wisconsin. A plane with a pūteketeke campaign banner also flew over the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The pūteketeke is known for carrying its young on its back, sharing chick-rearing responsibilities, and eating its own feathers to induce vomiting as a method to expel parasites. It has a chorus of grunts, growls and barks and engages in an elaborate set of mating dances, including the “weed dance” where the birds offer each other water weed and the “ghostly penguin” where they rise chest to chest.