Bird books, bird resources, and Bird of the Year 2019

New Zealand bird enthusiasts will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite native bird during Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which highlights New Zealand’s birds, their habitats, and the threats they face.

This year offers a new system where voters can enter their five feathered favourites ranked from 1 to 5. Voting opens Monday 28 October and closes 5pm Sunday 10 November.

Birds are a wonderful topic for inquiry and open up the opportunity to learn across many curriculum areas such as science, social studies, and the arts. This blog post is full of resources to learn more about New Zealand's birds.

Green and white kereru bird perching in green foliage

Kereru — winner Bird of the Year 2018 by Andrea Lightfoot. Unsplash. License to use.


Our lending service offers some great titles about New Zealand birds. 

For primary/intermediate students

  • '12 Huia Birds' by Julian Stokoe, illustrated by Stacy Eyles, 2016.
  • 'How to Mend a Kea + Other Fabulous Fix-It Tales From Wildbase Hospital' by Janet Hunt, 2017.
  • 'On the Brink: New Zealand’s Most Endangered Species' by Maria Gill, illustrated by Terry Fitzgibbon, 2019.
  • 'Whetu the Little Blue Duck' by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Renee Haggo, 2011.
  • 'Whose Beak Is this?' by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson, 2015.

For secondary school students

  • 'The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand' by Barrie Heather and Hugh Robertson, illustrated by Derek Onley, 2015.
  • 'The Hunters: The Precarious Lives of New Zealand’s Birds of Prey' by Debbie Stewart with Nicola McCloy, 2018.
  • 'The Brilliance of Birds: A New Zealand Birdventure' by Skye Wishart and Edin Whitehead, 2019.
  • 'Buller’s Birds of New Zealand: The Complete Work of JG Keulemans' by Geoff Norman, 2014.

Calling all bird nerds

One book, in particular, stood out for our librarians this year: 'Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand' by Geoff Norman (2018).

Bird nerds everywhere will appreciate the depth of this book. Norman covers all the aspects that are of interest to any student studying the secondary curriculum living world strand such as life processes, ecology, evolution and the relationships between, in this case, birds and their unique environment.

The book is also a visual feast, with historic and contemporary renditions of our endemic species, carrying on from the style of text he wrote for ‘Buller’s Birds’ mentioned earlier. He situates the rich histories of our birds within Māori and Pakeha perspectives and looks at their cultural and artistic legacies in New Zealand. Sad tales of the impact of introduced species abound, but also stories of how we have tried to turn the tide of extinctions, and the hard work and achievements of many individuals coming together to save our threatened species.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer sets are designed to inspire curiosity and inquiry. Set resources include websites, images, videos, books, and more. Topics relevant to exploring Aotearoa's birdlife and issues affecting them include:

Many Answers

Many Answers guides students to websites and other resources to help with topic inquiry. Relevant entries about NZ birds and issues that affect them include:

And the winner is...

The winner of Bird of the Year 2019 will be announced on 11 November.

By Lara Petry and Mini Prasad

Lara and Mini are Librarians with Services to Schools.

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