So here we are.
Three weeks, two rounds, 50 birds, then 10, and in a few minutes, one – flying lazily through the sky, medal-in-beak.
Voting closed last night, and in the moments before the curtain rises, it is all up for grabs. The magpie has 2017’s shiny sash in its nest, and is looking around jealously.
The poll has been dark for days. For 48 hours, the country’s finest statisticians have been building models, trend lines, big cork boards with red string with birds perched on them.
We’ve had thrills, spills and scandals.
There are 10 birds that could win today, each with their own unique strengths, personalities, regional power bases and, of course, their supporters, squawking in their corners.
The highly-endangered black-throated finch was the first round’s breakout star. The magpie won in 2017, with nearly 20,000 votes. The ibis came second barely a wingflap behind. The kookaburra came third, both this year in round one and in 2017 – surely a sign of some lasting community support.
The frogmouth could be the first nocturnal bird to win, one for the history books. The sulphur-crested cockatoo could mop up the preferences of all its parrot comrades (the galah, Carnaby’s black cockatoo, gang-gang cockatoo and more).
The last time we did this, just one week ago, there were incredible scenes. The electoral commission went into overdrive, the result too close to call, as we scratched in the depths through the write-in votes. And that was just the warm-up.
The winner for the whole thing will be announced after 6.30am AEDT.