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Britain's National Bird FINALLY Selected, and He's a Bully

Jun 13, 2015 07:14 PM EDT
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(Photo : David Lindo / Urban Birder) Cick HERE to visit The Urban Birder and see results!

Earlier this year, citizens of the United Kingdom were given the unique opportunity to vote on which of 10 feathered friends would finally become their national bird - a position once unofficially held by the meanest and nastiest songbird you've ever laid eyes on. Now, after a little over two months of deliberation and tallying votes, the results are in.

The bully, it seems, keeps the crown after all. As Nature World News (NWN) previously reported, the red-breasted robin has been Britain's unofficial mascot for half a century, while the United Kingdom as a whole lacked a national bird.

That's why this British election season ornithologist David Lindo, who calls himself the "Urban Birder," decided to host his own election, the result of which was promised support by the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Bird Protection (RSBP) and newly appointed environment minister.

Lindo recently admitted to British news outlet The Guardian that he was hoping for a different result, largely because the robin is an infamously territorial bird, mauling and sometimes even murdering its brethren in a bid for the best grub and singing grounds.

"That sweet song fluting from your fence is actually the avian equivalent of a foul-mouthed 'get orf my land'," columnist and cultural historian Philip Hoare recently wrote. "Males will peck at rivals' napes to sever their spinal cords; 10% of all adult robin deaths are robin-on-robin, red-on-red incidents." (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Flickr: Mark Freeth) An unsuspecting greenfinch (bottom-center) is in trouble, with a robin bearing down in all its feathery fury.

Lindo had announced in the past that he was personally hoping that the "handsome" native blackbird would come out on top, amidst a short-list of 10 memorable birds, but "Britain has spoken," he wrote, and he has no regrets.

The blackbird, in fact, took third place - second only to the stunningly white barn owl of the English countryside. The robin, defending its unofficial crown as fiercely as it does its territory, managed to claim 34 percent of more than 224,000 digital ballots cast. For comparison, the barn owl and blackbird claimed only 12 and 11 percent, respectively.

Still, it's impossible to keep everyone happy when selecting the avian symbol of a nation. The ever-respected Benjamin Franklin was famously opposed to having the eagle as the United States' national symbol in 1782.

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly," Franklin reportedly wrote to his daughter soon after the decision was made, according to the Smithsonian and Franklin Institutes.

The founding father goes on to describe how he observed the bald eagle be a thief and a "rank coward," stealing food from other hardworking birds and then fleeing small-but-aggressive kingbirds.

"He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country..." he concluded, referencing the Revolutionary War. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : pixabay) Really now, America, does that face look trustworthy to you?

However, this reporter, for one, still sees the eagle as more fitting than say, a turkey. It is commonly believed that Franklin actually proposed the turkey as the US national symbol. This is not true, but he does go on in the same letter to gripe that the original national seal looked like a gobbler - something still better than the bald eagle, he wrote.

"He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

Stunningly, the cowardly eagle and the brutish robin are only among a list of about 100 official and unofficial national birds. The trend has still not caught on in many well-known countries, with nations like China and Australia still lacking a nationally accepted symbol.

Canada, on the other hand, seems to share Lindo's sentiments, with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic having announced a vote for their own national bird, the winner of which will be decided in 2017.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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