There's an important election coming up on May 7 - and I don't mean the vapid political pantomime whose predictably dreary soundbites are already boring half of us to tears and sending the other half to recreational drugs.

On the Big Blue Bus programme a few years ago, we had the temerity to ask the RSPB why England had no National Bird.  After all, the USA has the bald eagle, India has its peacock and even France has a cock (naturally).

Well, you should never underestimate the clout of local radio.  We must have ruffled a few feathers* because, even though it's taken several years, the British are at last to be given the opportunity to vote for a National Bird.  Leading ornithologist and broadcaster David Lindo has drawn up a shortlist of ten birds and we're all invited to vote for our favourite - by or on May 7.

*I'm hoping this will be the only avian pun in this blogposting.

Here are the contenders...

Mute Swan
One of the largest flying birds on Earth - it can weigh up to 9kg.
And mute swans are by no means mute - they grunt, whistle hoarsely, snort and hiss.
Barn Owl
The silent, haunting - and slightly unsettling - hunter.

One of the commonest and most welcome sights in the land - complete with its silken song.

Blue Tit
Amongst the most colourful of Britain's birds - and thankfully not uncommon.

Hen Harrier
It's been persecuted almost to extinction in England and its numbers elsewhere 
aren't looking too good either.

It can easily be overlooked - despite its flamboyant colours - because 
it spends so much of its time completely motionless.

These lovely birds never look 'clownish' or remotely 'comical' to me.
I prefer their common Scottish name - 'sea parrot'.

Thankfully quite common in town and country - although not commonly seen.

His 'red' breast indirectly gave rise to my own surname.

Red Kite
A re-introduction victory for a bird that was previously on its way 
to extinction - as the hen harrier is now.

Call me picky but I can find a couple of faults with Mr Lindo's idea.

Firstly, I'd have preferred each of the countries that make up the Union to have its own national bird - perhaps the raven or the chough for Wales and the golden eagle or the ptarmigan for Scotland.

And secondly I have to deplore the omission of my all-time favourite - and far too often overlooked - candidate: the wonderful little chaffinch (at the top of this blog and at the top of my list).

Notwithstanding, you can make your choice known at votenationalbird.com.

For the record, here's a list of some of the more exotic national birds that grace the earth's skies...

Himalayan bulbul (Bahrain)
Lilac-breasted roller (Botswana)
Trogon (Cuba)
Palmchat (Dominican Republic)
Turquoise-browed motmot (El Salvador and Nicaragua)
Resplendent quetzal (Guatemala)
Doctor bird (Jamaica)
Dodo (Mauritius) - a little bit late to save that one
Bare-throated bellbird (Paraguay)
Andean cock-of-the-rock (Peru)
Siamese fireback (Thailand)
Cocrico (Trinidad and Tobago)

And the record goes to the African fish eagle, which is claimed as the national bird of Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Sudan and Namibia.
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A woman on the bus this morning called today's solar eclipse 'a damp squid'.  If, like her (and me), you didn't get a good view of it, take comfort.  Compensation of a sort will arrive, cloud-permitting, with a total lunar eclipse on September 28.  


If there's still time, please remember to celebrate St Cuthbert's Day today, Friday 20 March - the last day of winter.
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Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


Keith Johnson said...

How about the Omegooli bird on the NETHERland flag?

Ian Robinson said...

Take more water with it, Keith...

Bentonbag said...

Surely FINland should have a national fish?

Ian Robinson said...

Why stop there? SWEDEn could have a national vegetable, JAMaica a national preserve, GERMany a national bacteria, SINGapore a national song...not sure about BRAzil, though.