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Poll: Which bird best represents Britain?

PUBLISHED: 08:51 16 March 2015 | UPDATED: 08:51 16 March 2015

Photo: PRESS ASSOCIATION

Photo: PRESS ASSOCIATION

An ornithologist is hoping to set the nation’s hearts aflutter with a campaign to find Britain’s national bird.

David Lindo, who is also known as The Urban Birder, decided to promote his passion for the conservation of birds after discovering that Britain is one of the few countries in the world not to have its own national bird.

While America has the bald eagle, Sweden the common blackbird, Japan the green pheasant, France the Gallic rooster and India the peacock, the author and broadcaster said it was hard to believe that as a nation of animal lovers Britain does not have a bird to call its own.

He said: “I want to encourage the great British public to vote for the bird that best represents all that is great about this nation.”

More than 70,000 people voted in the first round to whittle it down to a shortlist of 10 and members of the public now have six weeks to choose which British bird they would like to see represent the country, the expert said.

The 10 most popular birds which have been voted for the by the public are the robin, kingfisher, barn owl, blue tit, wren, blackbird, puffin, mute swan, red kite and hen harrier.

Mr Lindo said: “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?”

Although Mr Lindo says he is supposed to remain impartial he claims his vote would go to the blackbird whose birdsong reminds him of growing up and “lazy, hazy sunny days”.

He is also hoping to get more children interested in British wildlife by launching a drawing and poetry competition in schools alongside the campaign.

He said: “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 final round of voting for Britain’s National Bird Campaign closes on May 7, the day of the general election.

Mr Lindo said he will be speaking to the Government once the public has voted to see if the winner can officially be made Britain’s national bird.

Votes can be cast at www.votenationalbird.com or by paper ballot at selected nature reserves across the UK.

The shortlist according to David Lindo:

Mute Swan - The mute swan is one of the largest flying birds in the world and can weigh up to 20lbs (9kg). Many are still considered to be the property of the Crown, they are the epitome of beauty and grace.

Red Kite - This glorious aerial master has won the hearts of the British public and is an amazing conservation success. From a tiny dwindling population based in Wales, there are now in excess of 3,000 red kites in Britain.

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 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 sea.

Barn Owl - There is nothing more haunting than the ghostly image of a barn owl in the countryside flying through the beam of a car’s headlights in the dark of night. Everybody loves an owl. But do you love the barn owl enough to make it our national bird?

Kingfisher - 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.

Wren - The wren is a tiny bird with a mighty voice. After the Goldcrest and Firecrest it is the third smallest bird in Britain. Many people mistakenly believe that the Jenny wren has always been our national bird. Now is your chance to make it a reality.

Robin - Perhaps Britain’s most famous bird, it needs little introduction. Good old Robin Redbreast is actually a member of the thrush family, rarely lives longer than a couple of years and already holds the title of Britain’s favourite bird.

Blackbird - The blackbird is one of the most familiar birds in the country with a truly mellifluous song. Paul McCartney sang a 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 of Britain’s most beautiful birds. They are among the most familiar of our garden birds and are avid users of the feeders and nest boxes that we put out for them.

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