Chosen we know not how and why, but most countries have an avian representative that becomes a cultural symbol. Britain woke up to the idea rather late, and all thanks to ornithologist, television presenter and blogger David Lindo.
The ubiquitous robin (one hops around outside my window as I write this) emerged rather predictably as the winner in an online vote in which nearly 2,50,000 people voted.
The red-chested avian, the bird “whom Man loves best.” according to Wordsworth, was initially part of a group of 10 common British birds selected from a list of 60 in a preliminary vote.
The online voting for the bird closed on May 7. The robin soared above other contenders taking 34 per cent of the vote, followed by the barn owl and blackbird at 12 and 11 per cent.
Robins sing at all times of the day and nearly all year round, and “despite their cute appearance ... are aggressively territorial and are quick to drive away intruders,” says the entry in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
In the social media wave created by this bird’s election however can be heard the grumbles of those who think the choice of an aggressive bully who looks good and speaks well sends the wrong message about Britain.
Mr. Lindo’s own choice was the blackbird, although the robin is “entwined into our national psyche”.
“Despite being a seemingly friendly bird, the robin is hugely territorial and very defensive of its territory and I presume that reflects us as an island nation that we will stand our ground,” he is quoted as saying. His next task is to get the government to formally recognise the little winner as the national bird.