Shortlist announced for Britain's Vote National Bird Campaign
PUBLISHED: 11:43 04 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:10 04 March 2015
After months of voting, the shortlist for Britain's Vote National Bird Campaign has been announced. The public now have six weeks to choose which British bird will be crowned Britain's National Bird.
• Mute Swan - The Mute Swan is one of the largest flying birds in the world weighing in at anything up to 20 pounds (9kg). Once considered to be the property of the Crown they are the epitome of beauty and grace. But can the swan carry the crown?
• Red Kite - This glorious aerial master has won the hearts of the British public and they are an amazing conservation success. From a tiny dwindling population based in Wales, there are now in excess of 3000 Red Kites in Britain. Could this amazing raptor soar to the top of the pile?
• Hen Harrier - With any election there is always a candidate that is billed as having an outside chance. This beautiful raptor is a hot political potato as it is the most persecuted in the UK. Shamefully, there is perhaps just one pair remaining in England. If Britain wants to back an underdog then the Hen Harrier is the one.
• Puffin - This totally photogenic comedic looking seabird really deserves its northern Scottish alternative name of Sea Parrot. They are only in Britain during the summer before slipping off to spend the winter months in the middle of the ocean. If you want a character as our National Bird, look no further.
• Barn Owl - There is nothing more haunting than to see the ghostly image of a Barn Owl in the countryside flying through the beam of a car headlights in the depth of night. Everybody loves an owl. But do you love the Barn Owl enough to make it our National Bird?
• Kingfisher - Truly the dazzling jewel of the British bird scene, but surprisingly, they are not an everyday sight for most people. Despite their bright colours, Kingfishers can be easily overlooked as they spend a lot their time perched motionless by riverbanks. As our National Bird, you’ll be able to see one every day!
• Wren - The Wren is a tiny bird with a mighty voice. After the Goldcrest and Firecrest it’s the third smallest bird in Britain. Many people mistakenly believe that the Jenny Wren has always our National Bird. Now is your chance to make it a reality.
• Robin - Perhaps Britain’s most famous bird it needs little introduction. The good old Robin Redbreast is actually a member of the thrush family and rarely lives longer than a couple of years. It has already held the title of Britain’s Favourite Bird for nearly 50 years. Is this National Bird Vote just a formality?
• Blackbird - The Blackbird is one of the most familiar birds in the land with a truly mellifluous song. Paul McCartney sang a mellifluous song about the Blackbird. Will this dark and handsome thrush be calling the tune when the votes are finally in?
• Blue Tit - There can’t be a garden in the land that isn’t graced by Blue Tits, one Britain’s most beautiful birds. They are amongst the most familiar of our garden birds and are avid users of the feeders and nest boxes that we put out for them. Has the cheeky Blue Tit got what it takes to be our National Bird?
The Vote National Bird Campaign has been launched by David Lindo, broadcaster, writer and one of the UK’s leading ornithologists – also known as The Urban Birder. David Lindo has a particular passion for promoting the appreciation and conservation of urban birds.
David says: “The public have voted and we are pleased to announce the shortlist for Britain’s National Bird. Along with the expected contenders - the friendly Robin, charismatic Puffin and elegant Swan - there is one major surprise - the Hen Harrier, one of England’s rarest breeding birds. Down to just one breeding pair a couple of years ago, it may already be extinct. Could the majestic Hen Harrier knock the hot favourite Robin off its perch?”
David discovered Britain is one of the few countries in the world not to have its own national bird - America have the Bald Eagle, Sweden the common Blackbird, Japan the Green Pheasant, France the Gallic Rooster and India has the peacock.
He explains, “It is hard to believe as a nation of animal lovers, that Britain has not got a National Bird! I want to encourage the great British public to vote for the bird that best represents all that is great about this nation.”
One of the aims of David’s campaign is to get more children interested in and enthusiastic about Great British wildlife and to encourage greater awareness of British birds in schools. To this end, the Vote National Bird Campaign will be launching a UK wide primary schools national drawing and poetry competition, open to all Primary and Secondary school children. School children can paint, draw or write a poem about one of the shortlisted birds. The winner will get a playground wildlife makeover for their school.
David explains, “I’m really keen to promote our wonderful British nature in schools and the Vote National Bird Campaign is a great way of doing it. It’s all about education, education and a little more education. Getting kids to engage with nature through art and literature is a great way to start.’
The first round of voting for Britain’s Vote National Bird Campaign took place in the autumn of 2014, when over 70,000 people voted from a long list of 60 iconic British birds
The final round of voting for Britain’s National Bird Campaign opens on March 16th and will close on Election Day, May 7. Members of the public can vote at www.votenationalbird.com and by paper ballot at selected nature reserves across the UK. The winning bird will be announced soon after.