Farmers throw their weight behind whio in Bird of the Year competition

An endangered duck that embodies the "resilience of rural communities" has won the hearts of farmers in this year's Bird of the Year competition.

Federated Farmers on Wednesday officially threw their support behind the whio/blue duck to take out the popular title.

Voting in the competition, run by Forest & Bird, opened earlier this week, with bird fans across the country having until November 15 to cast their votes.

"The doughty whio embodies many things about the resilience of rural communities," Chris Allen, Federated Farmers environmental spokesperson, on Wednesday.

"And we are delighted to be flying in the same direction as our new Minister of Conservation Kiri Allen, who recently announced her public support for the whio."

It's not the first time the farming organisation has backed the bird, either. It was also their pick last year, when it came sixth in the competition.

"It’s a tough little guy/ gal," said Allen. 

"They work in 'fowl' weather and there aren't too many of them - like farmers."

With fewer than 3000 whio left in the wild, the species is considered "nationally vulnerable" by the Department of Conservation, meaning it is "facing a risk of extinction in the medium term".

The public show of support for the whio by Federated Farmers comes after the hunting community threw their weight behind the kārearea/NZ falcon earlier this week.  

Last year the competition was won by the hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin.