Nameless chick 'too royal' for Birdy McBirdface

The as-yet unnamed albatross chick at Taiaroa Head (DOC)
The as-yet unnamed albatross chick at Taiaroa Head (DOC)

An Otago albatross chick that became an internet sensation needs a name -- but Birdy McBirdface has been ruled out already.

Thousands have spied on the chick via a webcam since it's hatching at Pikekura/Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula in January.

Now the Department of Conservation (DOC) is running a competition to name the northern royal albatross chick, although its gender can't be determined just yet. The size, weight and temperament of the chick will help DOC give a good guess of its gender, but it's not until the chick is 10-years-old and breeds can DOC be sure. 

"Because viewers have taken such ownership of this chick, we thought it only right they should have the opportunity to give it a name," DOC's threatened species ambassador Nicola Toki says.

Albatross are a threatened species and the northern royal bird is considered an icon in Dunedin, as well as a taonga (treasure) to Ngāi Tahu. The colony is the only mainland place in the world to see the birds and attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year. More than 250,000 people tuned in to watch the chicks hatching.

The birds have a wing span of more than three metres, and are among the largest seabirds in the world. The chick is expected to fledge in September.

DOC ranger Lyndon Perriman with the chick and web cam (DOC)

As for the name, Ms Toki says they're looking for one which reflects the characteristics of the species or their habitat on Otago Peninsula and their importance as a taonga species.

One the DOC website, it reads: "This chick is far too royal for Birdy McBirdface!".

Submissions close on Friday May 27, then the top five public submissions will be announced on Tuesday June 7 for voting. The winner will be announced on June 21.

To enter visit the DOC website