June 17, 2024

Whio are the Best Smelling Bird in New Zealand – Forest & Bird

Neo the Conservation Dog has the best snoz for sniffing birds. He’s also barking for the Whio (also known as the Blue Duck) to be Bird of the Year for 2018.

Likes: sniffs, swims, pats, Whio!

Dislikes: stoats, yucky rivers.

Quote: “If it whiffs, I sniffs”

Whio are the best smelling bird in New Zealand. This is because they spend a lot of time in water, paddling around, shooting rapids and looking for food.

Nice clean water makes a bird feel fresh, and smell fresh too!

The food they eat is clean protein – insects and their larvae that also live in clean fresh water. Live clean, eat clean, like those sweaty people we see coming out of gyms. These ducks shun dirty spots. No sediment or yucky pollution for them.

This is why, as much as I love a good whiff of all native birds, I’m barking for the Whio to be Bird of the Year for 2018.

Whio aren’t like other birds, or even much like other ducks! They have lips (lips!) and surf rapids like the pros, and you’ll only find them in the best awa. Short story – if your river has a stable population of Whio living on it, you can be pretty sure the health of that river is good, and the forest around it has a low number of pests.

I’ve seen birds all over New Zealand, some of them seem to do pretty well in spite of human activities. Like the funny old Pūkeko we see swamping it up in paddocks. Or the Kererū drunkenly plunging from fruit trees in the ‘burbs. Or even Kākā in the middle of Wellington! Townie birds, farm birds, they don’t smell nearly as good as Whio!

The Whio requires thousands of kilometres of healthy river and low pest numbers in the surrounding forests to ensure their survival. A pair of Whio require on average a 1km stretch of river.

They nest in the forested margins of their patch of river, or precariously under a log jam. Eggs and Whio ducklings are, unfortunately, an excellent snack for stoats.

They are fiercely protective of their patch of river which is understandable – that patch is where they gather all of their food, using their rubbery lips to nibble tiny freshwater insects and larvae off rocks. Gathering that much food is a lot of work, and the colder it gets the more river is needed for the birds to do well.

Speaking of cold – check out my gear for river work! Looks good eh? This picture is up on my Hounder profile.

Looking after Whio means looking after the water where they live – that’s an awesome thing! Wherever you see Whio, you can pretty much guarantee its all good for swimming. Whio just can’t survive in waterways that contain sediment and pollution that kills the insect life. In a way they are guardians for our water and signposts for swimming spots!

Whio should be bird of the year this year because they have been the UnderDuck too long.  Their understated behaviour and feel good factor deserve recognition – who doesn’t like seeing cute ducklings and beautiful rivers? They also need to be known better so that people stop calling them Blue Duck – why be Blue Duck when Whio is such an awesome name? Calling them Blue Duck is like calling Kiwi ‘Brown Bird’.

So raise your voice and bark for Whio! Vote, I mean vote!

I found some I found some am I a good boy? I’m a good boy! Oooh pats!

Bird of the Year voting closes at 5pm on Sunday the 14th of October 2018.

Vote Now

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