The results are in and Calgary now has an official bird.
Garnering 44 per cent of the vote, the black-capped chickadee pulled out the win after two months of voting.
The black-billed magpie was the chickadee’s closest contender, raking in just 24 per cent of the vote.
“I know that the magpie was fiercely contested and there were a lot of people who said that the magpie is the bird that we truly deserve and the chickadee is the bird we aspire to,” Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said.
“Regardless of who won, being able to advocate for all bird species in Calgary is really important.”
As for the other birds in the running, the northern flicker came in third with 17 per cent of the vote, followed by the blue jay with eight per cent of votes cast, and the red-breasted nuthatch rounding out the group with 7 per cent.
Overall, there were 36,677 votes cast by Calgarians between March 30 and May 1.
“I was expecting maybe 5,000 people, if we were lucky,” Bird Friendly Calgary chair John McFaul said. “It just reflects that Calgarians are interested in what’s going on in their natural areas and in their backyards.”
The idea to hold a vote came from Bird Friendly Calgary, a group of volunteers and nature groups within the city.
Last year, Calgary was certified as a bird-friendly city by Nature Canada, and one of the requirements to maintain that certification was for the city to name an official bird.
Penner brought forward a notice of motion to a city committee in March to kickstart the process, one she said is important to raise awareness to the city’s biodiversity.
“Birds are really important in the biodiversity scheme and I think it speaks volumes to the natural spaces that we have here in Calgary; the different kinds of terrain that we have and the different kinds of birds that settle across that, and how it’s important to protect that diversity.”
Nature Canada’s initiative of bird-friendly cities was driven by research from Cornell University that showed bird populations in North America have diminished by up to three billion over the last 50 years.
Bird Friendly Calgary hopes to encourage Calgarians to be more aware of the issues our fine-feathered friends face in an urban environment, with tips to make your backyard more of an “oasis” for local bird populations.
“We’re working on information on types of plantings that would make a garden more bird friendly, we’re working on how to use light at night as part of this whole process of making your backyard a small oasis for biodiversity,” said Roland Dechesne, a member of Bird Friendly Calgary.
The five birds in the running were selected after a call for nominations and consultations with Indigenous groups.
Saturday’s announcement was held overlooking the Weaselhead Natural Area on the borders of the Tsuu T’ina Nation.
“I think it’s so important to have the wildlife active and thriving here and it’s due to a lot of the changes that have happened with the road going through,” Tsuu T’ina Nation councillor Corrine Eagletail-Frazier said. “I think it’s really important just because there’s natural law being brought back into the environment.”
Calgary city councillors will name the chickadee as Calgary’s official bird when they meet on June 7.
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