Should the northern flicker be named Vancouver’s city bird?

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      The City of Vancouver is gearing up for a referendum of sorts. But it's not about bike lanes, rezonings, or property taxes.

      Between April 13 and May 10, Vancouver residents will be asked to pick a city bird.

      The candidates are six birds that call the city home all year long: Anna’s hummingbird, black-capped chickadee, Pacific wren, pileated woodpecker, northern flicker, and varied thrush.

      Online voting will take place on the city website. There will also be ballot boxes at Hillcrest Centre, Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, the Vancouver Public Library's main branch, the park board's administration building on Beach Avenue, and the Stanley Park Ecology Society's Nature House at Lost Lagoon.

      The winner will be announced at the end of Vancouver Bird Week (May 3 to 10), and displayed in promotional material for Bird Week 2015.

      In a social media marketing exercise, the park board has set up Twitter accounts for each nominated bird: @annathebird, @vancityblackcap, @variedthrush, @pacificwren, @vanwoodpecker, and @northernflick.

      Here's what the park board says about each bird.

      Anna's hummingbird

      Anna's hummingbird.
      Stephen Hui

      "Anna's Hummingbird are tiny, but highly showy, Vancouver birds. They're bright and colourful, fearless around humans, and the males will swoop up 130 feet in the air and then dive to the ground to woo the ladies."

      Black-capped chickadee

      Black-capped chickadee.
      Stephen Hui

      "The cute Black-Capped Chickadee is a can-do bird who loves to explore and is always the first to find a feeder in the area. It's a social, popular bird who lives in the forest, hides food to eat later, and has a well-known whistled song."

      Pacific wren

      Pacific wren.
      Tom Talbott

      "In 2010, Pacific Wrens were split off as their own species from the Winter Wren family. The brown Pacific Wren is a shy and solitary bird, hiding in its forest habitat and avoiding people. However, despite its tiny size, its voice is enormously powerful."

      Pileated woodpecker ‏

      Pileated woodpecker.
      mele avery

      "The stately Pileated Woodpecker is the largest of the City Bird candidates, and lives exclusively in mature forests. The holes it pecks provide homes and nests for many other bird species."

      Northern flicker ‏

      Northern flicker.
      Stephen Hui

      "The Northern Flicker is at home in both forest and urban environments, eating and living easily in both, and is unafraid to squawk at its human neighbours. A cousin of the Pileated Woodpecker, the Flicker also pecks holes that other species use to survive."

      Varied thrush ‏

      Varied thrush.
      Stephen Hui

      "Though brightly coloured, the Varied Thrush is a shy bird whose song is often described as a 'sad referee's whistle'. It spends the winter at sea level, then heads up mountains to breed in spring."



      Stephen Hui

      Apr 9, 2014 at 11:15am

      Would you have nominated any other birds? What about the crow, rock pigeon, and red-winged blackbird?

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      Apr 9, 2014 at 11:40am

      Well, rock pigeons are invasive, so that would probably rule those guys out...

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      Christopher M. Stephens

      Apr 9, 2014 at 11:47am

      The bird should be somewhat characteristic of the west coast, not a bird common to all of North America.

      The bird should also be distinctive and somewhat charismatic.

      Therefore, I would say, Varied Thrush

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      John Lucas

      Apr 9, 2014 at 11:51am

      I have always been partial to Steller's Jay, but I guess that's already our provincial bird.

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      Martin Dunphy

      Apr 9, 2014 at 1:22pm

      Northern flicker (mostly red-shafted). It's a woodpecker, which is cool (the pileated, which is gorgeous, is far too rare in the city). It eats ants for most of the year. It likes to eat poison ivy! It's large and colourful. It has a neat, distinctive call. It's seen on the ground as much as in trees, and you can often walk right up to one.
      The rest are too small, and the Anna's is a relatively recent immigrant.

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      Martin Dunphy

      Apr 9, 2014 at 1:33pm

      One thing I forgot: the northern flicker is also the best drummer of all the local birds, as Straight staffers experienced a few springs ago when our resident machine-gun basher expressed himself upon the building's steel deck supports in the back.

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      Apr 9, 2014 at 3:27pm


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      Apr 15, 2014 at 8:41pm

      The Seagull. Year round. Always part of Vancouver.

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