Vote Hen Harrier as national bird

Hen-Harrier-Day-300pxToday, the voting for Britain’s national bird starts in earnest.  The 10 shortlisted species, on the basis of 70,000 votes cast last autumn are (in alphabetical order):

  • Barn Owl
  • Blackbird
  • Blue Tit
  • Hen Harrier
  • Kingfisher
  • Mute Swan
  • Puffin
  • Red Kite
  • Robin
  • Wren

You can vote now and right up until after the polls close in the general election of 7 May.

Apart from any uncertainty over whether this is a bird for England, Britain or the UK it’s all pretty straight forward really, don’t you think? First, the Wren – the only European representative of a New World bunch of birds. I love Wrens to bits but we had better not vote for a Yank as our national bird.

Mute Swan – serene, peaceful, wet and loving – hardly appropriate for our national bird?

Puffin –  lovely bird, but spends most of its life at sea – perhaps a politician’s bird, but surely not one to represent us for ever.

Kingfisher – beautiful bird.  Bit of a screechy voice. Too gaudy, surely. Surely? And too political a choice in the run up to 7 May – all that blue!

Red Kite – save your votes for ‘reds’ for the Labour party on 7 May.

Barn Owl –  a gorgeous bird which eats rodents at night.  Pity it is found on every continent except Antarctica as far as a national bird is concerned.

Blue Tit – too twee for me – and too political a choice in the run up to a general election.  Again, all that blue!

Blackbird and Robin – excellent choices as familiar to all as garden birds with lovely songs.  I’d be very happy with either of these.  How did the Song Thrush not get onto this list? I guess that’s democracy for you.

Hen Harrier! Let’s show our British tolerance and acceptance for a bird that occupies these latitudes around the globe but is hated by a small proportion of British people – the grouse shooters. If there is a any bird that we should take to our hearts and vote for it to have a better future then it must be the Hen Harrier which is the most striking victim of wildlife crime amongst British birds. A species which should be common but is laid low because of the intolerance and criminal acts of a small number of our fellow Brits. It deserves the support of us all. The Hen Harrier needs the support of every reasonable, tolerant, caring British voter.  If we cannot vote for a more tolerant law-abiding and fairer society, then what are votes for? Vote for a better future. Vote for the Hen Harrier. And add your name to this e-petition whilst you are at it please.



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25 Replies to “Vote Hen Harrier as national bird”

  1. There are a lot of birds on that list that I would like to vote for because it just wouldn't be the same without them, but there is one bird that may disappear for real from England. Imagine how many people will understand more about the Hen Harrier if it becomes our National bird. I am asking everyone I know to think about this vote and how best to use it. Vote Hen Harrier and make a real difference.

  2. Ed Hutchings - nations are political constructs. I don't usually like national symbols. I find them narrow and chauvanistic. It is by definition what a flag is and I really don't like flags! National symbols seem particular inappropriate when it comes to wildlife, they don't adhere to our selfimposed tribal boundaries and identities (why should they?!) However, in this case a handful of people in a nation, be that England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom are wilfully, for their own perverse pleasure and wanton greed, destroying a wonderful work of nature and depriving those that live or visit this nation, the chance of seeing this creature. The hen harrier therefore gets my vote.

    1. Actually, 'nation' has various meanings, and the meaning has changed over time, but let's not get into that here. However, I apologise - I should have made myself clearer. I was in fact referring to Mark's blatantly partisan views with regards the red and blue references.

      I heartily support the choice of Hen Harrier. Indeed, when I interviewed Chris Packham back in September, I put it to him that it would put the government in a rather awkward position to have the much persecuted raptor as our national bird. Good luck to it.

      Personally, I have plumped for the Wren. It may be the sole representative of a predominately New World family, but even more reason to vote for it I say. I did feel a searing twinge of guilt, as if I were cheating on the Robin, but the Wren sums up the nation for me. It is small, but fearless and full of character. It punches above its weight, though, admittedly, we rarely do as a whole these days. It sings all year round; even in the depths of winter, its machine gun rattle of a song resonates through the thickest of thickets. It is found everywhere and anywhere. Most common in deciduous woodland, I have seen it up mountains and even beach combing on the coast.

      One of my favourite English poem's also features the Wren. To Wordsworth, its song had a special meaning. In Book II of ‘The Prelude’, he describes a poignant occasion, when hearing one composed his boisterous spirits:

      “…that single wren
      Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave
      Of the old church, that — though from recent showers
      The earth was comfortless, and touched by faint
      Internal breezes, sobbings of the place
      And respirations, from the roofless walls
      The shuddering ivy dripped large drops — yet still
      So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible bird
      Sang to herself, that there I could have made
      My dwelling-place, and lived for ever there
      To hear such music.”

      1. I'd assumed the rejection of various species on account of the political significance of their predominant plumage colours was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Clearly the only truly political vote being canvassed is for the Hen Harrier as a means of highlighting its plight at the hands of grouse-shooting interests. In that sense I'd say there is nothing wrong at all with a political vote.

  3. Might I add that the Blackbird and Mute Swan are already national birds for other countries. However as the Golden Eagle is the official bird of 3 countries, it's possible to pick those, but do we want to be unique?

    The national bird of Luxembourg is the Goldcrest. This speaks volumes.

    Do we want a small, cute garden bird or a larger symbol of power?

    1. giles - although it got that title by a slightly shady subterfuge - and it might have been a Goldcrest anyway!

  4. HH gets my vote! Somebody on Chris Evans show earlier today suggested (in all seriousness I think) the peacock. Whatever next, the red grouse?!

  5. Being a reserved English type, I'd previously considered that these votes were primarily designed as, and arguably little more than, media events. This one was duly picked up in national press and on BBC R4 Today programme. So regardless of the merits or charisma of other birds on the list, I'm delighted that I can vote for hen harrier to actually help raise public awareness and discussion of its plight and of who is responsible, and I'd urge others to do the same.

  6. Think if it was possible for H H to become national bird it would be more likely to help it get less persecution.

  7. 'National bird persecuted to near extinction by Gamekeepers' makes a hard hitting headline. It might be a political vote but so what. Here's a chance to make it happen. All is fair in love and war apparently. And lets not forget that the H H is a stunningly beautiful and magnificent creature and a worthy candidate in it's own right. Lets make it happen.

  8. I thought we'd all voted already weeks ago. Months ago?
    Then an email appeared in my inbox at the weekend telling me the shortlist had been shortened and would I vote again please?
    The answer is no.
    Mainly because I'm in a giant sulk that the bird I voted for (on account of it being far far better than any of this lot, no debate please) , the swift (of course), didn't make the short shortlist.
    Bah and indeed humbug.

  9. I don't agree about the blue tit Mark. I think it would make the perfect bird for the Tories!!!


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