The 7th of May will not only reveal the results of the general election, it is also the day Britain will choose its favourite bird species to represent the nation. Will it be the robin, the mute swan or perhaps the blue tit?
David Lindo, known as ‘The Urban Birder’ has invited everyone to vote for the bird that best represents all that is British. “We’re supposed to be the national leaders when it comes to being animal lovers” he says, “I feel embarrassed as someone who lives in the United Kingdom that we don’t have a national bird”. Mr Lindo plans to lobby the newly elected government to instate the winner of the vote as the official national bird.
At the moment the robin is the unofficial national bird, voted for in a poll for The Times as the nation’s favourite bird.
Famous national birds include the bald eagle for the United States and the peacock for India. However Britain is not alone in only having an unofficial bird. The kiwi of New Zealand and emu of Australia also remain unofficial.
The 10 short-listed birds have been whittled down from 60 iconic British birds that were voted on last year. These ranged from the feral pigeon and parakeet to the turtle dove and nightingale.
The final 10 birds are:
Barn Owl – Widespread throughout Europe, the barn owl flies silently and slowly and produces an eerie screech rather than a hoot. They sometimes hunt by day making them the most spotted owl.
Blackbird – Able to live in both urban areas and woodland, this bird is perhaps the most familiar in UK gardens, occurring in more than 90% during the Big Garden Birdwatch by the RSPB.
Blue Tit – Another familiar face in gardens, the blue tit is adept at being the first to find and use bird feeders due to it’s inquisitive nature. This trait also lead them to steal milk by pecking at milk-tops on doorsteps!
Hen Harrier – The hen or northern harrier is a bird most will not have seen, tending to stick to open, non-urban habitats such as grassland and meadows. Unlike most hawks they rely heavily on sound as well as vision to hunt prey.
Kingfisher – Famous for perching on branches and plunging into water after prey, the kingfisher is widespread across central and southern England. Although incredibly colourful they are pretty elusive and so seldom seen.
Mute Swan – Since the 12th century the Crown has claimed ownership of these swans. They are one of the heaviest flying birds and popular in culture, perhaps the best known being ‘The Ugly Ducking’ fairytale and the ballet ‘Swan Lake’.
Puffin – A well-loved and easily recognisable bird, the puffin has a large colourful bill and eyes. Their beak is serrated and can hold lots of fish at once, the record being 83 sand eels!
Red Kite – Primarily a scavenger, the red kite eats both carrion and the occasional small live prey. They have also been known to take food from refuge dumps meaning they can live in towns and cities. They also tend to pair for life, both parents looking after the young.
Robin – Known for nesting in unusual places such as old teapots and jacket pockets, the robin is closely associated with Christmas. They are one of the few birds to sing throughout winter.
Wren – The smallest on the list, the wren is also credited with an extremely loud voice. Per unit weight it can sing up to 10 times the power of the cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster! It mostly lives in woodland and has a rotund body with long legs.
So who will you vote for? The robin, the kingfisher, or perhaps the barn owl?
To take part go to www.votenationalbird.com and cast your vote!
Voting closes at midnight, May 7th 2015.
You can also follow the official Twitter feed or Tweet: @bird_vote
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