The provincial election isn’t the only voting opportunity taking place in Vancouver in the next two weeks.
On Thursday (April 27), the City of Vancouver will announce four candidates in a competition to determine which avian species will become its feathered representative.
The “city bird” will be elected online in advance of Vancouver Bird Week, which takes place from May 6 to 13. Last year, the peregrine falcon, topped the polls with 115,164 votes.
This year's winner will rule the roost leading up to the 27th International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver in August 2018.
“It’s to get awareness about birds around the city,” Vancouver bird advisory committee chair and ornithologist Robert Butler told the Straight by phone.
Butler, president of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation, pointed out that birding (birdwatching) has become big business.
This creates opportunities for the city to attract more tourism as it becomes better known as a haven for birds.
A 2011 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that bird aficionados spent $41 billion per year on trips and equipment in pursuit of their passion.
“You start identifying birds in your back yard,” Butler explained. “You go down to the park. You get hooked on this and you start looking elsewhere.”
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year, Butler is on a mission to identify 150 different species in Vancouver by Canada Day (July 1). As of April 25, he was already up to 122 different types of birds.
He said that the last week of April and first week of May is when most of the songbirds and shorebirds travel through Metro Vancouver.
“Today there were about 70,000 sandpipers down on Roberts Bank,” Butler stated. “That will probably reach 100,000 or more.”
Butler said the best locations to see birds in Vancouver are Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park, Everett Crowley Park, Jericho Beach, and Trout Lake.
“There is a big number of birds plus a large number of species coming through,” Butler said. “If you’re in the right place at the right time, the trees are literally dripping with birds.”