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Poll to elect Britain's first national bird on May 7

world Updated: Mar 17, 2015 20:10 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times

Britain goes to the polls to elect the next government on 7 May, but attention is increasingly focussed on another election on the same day: to elect the country’s national bird from a list of 10 feathered candidates.

India’s national bird is the Peacock, America has the Eagle, and several other countries have theirs, but strangely Britain never had a national bird. But now there is a discernible flutter among ornithologists as election day approaches, with the humble Robin as the favourite.

David Lindo, a keen bird-watcher, drew up a long-list of 60 birds last year. After hundreds of thousands of online votes, it has been whittled down to 10: Barn Owl, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Hen Harrier, Kingfisher, Mute Swan, Puffin, Red Kite, Robin and Wren.

But not everyone is happy with the short-list; many want the Indian Parrot as one of the candidates.

No one quite knows if they first came to the UK during the British raj, but Parrots originally from India have thrived here over the centuries and are now swamping parks and gardens in the leafy suburbs of London and elsewhere in large numbers, ‘driving away' native birds.

Wild and noisy, the squawking Parrots have been the subject of study by various organisations and universities, including Oxford, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and the Zoological Society of London.

Ornithologist David Lindo, who has organised the online poll, says he will ask the new government after the 7 May general election to officialy appoint the winner as Britain’s national bird.

The RSPB welcomed the initiative and said the lack of a national bird for Britain was a ‘glarig ommission’.

Ed Hutchings, a bird writer, prefers the Wren: “They sum up the British character. They are small but fearless and punch well above their weight, which we used to do. They are so full of character. They sing proudly from a perch, they don’t hide away".

It is clear that whoever wins in both the elections in 7 May, there will be many Britons who won’t be happy with the results.