Falcon, Owl, Grebe or Swallow? Vote Now for the 2015 City Bird of Vancouver

Photo credit: Magnus Manske | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Magnus Manske | Wikimedia Commons

It’s time to cast your vote for the City Bird of Vancouver – just don’t expect to see too many of the candidates flying around downtown.

The theme for this year’s “bird election” is rare birds. The Vancouver Bird Advisory Committee selected the four finalists in order to raise awareness about endangered species that were once common in and around the city.  Contenders this year are the barn owl, peregrine falcon, barn swallow and western grebe (a waterfowl).

You can vote online at the City of Vancouver website through May 9.  As of the time of writing, the grebe was pulling away as an early favourite with 4,757 votes, followed by the barn owl with 3,817 votes.  Each candidate also has a dedicated Twitter account to drum up support. You can follow along at @heyitsbarnowl, @thebarnswallow, @vanperegrine and @westerngrebe.  (Best Twitter bio goes to the barn owl: “An old soul. Fan of free-range organic food, urban agriculture, heritage buildings, espresso.”)

The City Bird of Vancouver campaign was launched last year in order to draw attention to the diversity of the city’s bird life and its importance to a vibrant ecosystem.  The black-capped chickadee was the inaugural winner, flying ahead of the competition with 277,924 votes. During its one-year term in office, the chickadee has been featured prominently on official city posters, buttons and parking stickers.

This year’s election culminates in Vancouver Bird Week, May 2-May 9. Inspired by Migratory Bird Day, the weeklong series of free events includes bird-themed workshops, exhibitions and lectures across Vancouver.

Here’s a little more about this year’s candidates for City Bird of Vancouver:

Photo credit: Magnus Manske | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Magnus Manske | Wikimedia Commons

Barn Owl: Known for its oversized eyes and unique face, the barn owl is a stealthy nocturnal predator. Its wings are silent, so the rats, voles and assorted rodents it preys upon never know it’s coming. A solitary bird, the barn owl roosts in hollow trees or old buildings by day, then stalks grassy meadows at night.

 

Photo credit: All Free Photos

Photo credit: All Free Photos

Peregrine Falcon: Known for its high-speed dives, the peregrine falcon is the avian equivalent of a stealth bomber. It achieves top speeds of 320 kilometres per hour, making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.  Gifted with incredible eyesight, the ace predator is able to snatch unsuspecting birds from mid-air or on the ground.

 

Photo credit: Charlesjsharp | Wikipedia

Photo credit: Charlesjsharp | Wikipedia

Barn Swallow: Endowed with a distinctive forked tail, the barn swallow is a perky little bird that feasts on insects. They arrive in Vancouver in April and build their cup-shaped mud nests on rafters or the walls of buildings.

 

Photo credit: Mark Watson | Flickr

Photo credit: Mark Watson | Flickr

Western Grebe: With its long black and white neck and distinctive red eye, this water bird is hard to miss. Primarily nocturnal, grebes assemble into large “rafts” during the day and float along on the surface of the water. The birds are perhaps best known for their courtship displays, where pairs high-step it across the water in a choreographed dance.

Vote for your favourite and view results on the City Bird of Vancouver page.

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