Robin tops poll to find UK's 'national bird'

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A robinImage source, PA
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Voters have selected the robin to be put forward as Britain's national bird

The robin has topped a poll of more than 200,000 people to choose the UK's first national bird.

Ornithologist David Lindo - who launched the campaign - said the robin was "entwined into our national psyche" as a "Christmas card pin-up".

He now plans to ask the government to officially recognise the robin as the national bird.

The red-breasted bird received 34% of votes, followed by the barn owl, which received 12%, and the blackbird, 11%.

BBC Springwatch presenter Mr Lindo began the project last year, saying Britain should have a national bird like many other countries.

More than 224,000 people voted online, at ballot boxes in schools and by post.

Image source, AP
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The barn owl came second in the poll - receiving 12% of the vote
Image source, Thinkstock
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The blackbird had been in the runner-up position - until children's votes were counted

The robin was initially selected - along with nine other birds - from a list of 60 in a preliminary vote. A ballot for the final 10 then opened to the British public in March.

Polling closed on the day of the general election, 7 May.

Other contenders included the wren, the red kite and the kingfisher - which came 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.

The mute swan came 7th in the vote, followed by the blue tit, the hen harrier and the puffin.

National birds from around the world

Image source, Thinkstock

If the government agrees the robin should represent the UK, it would join the ranks of these other national birds from around the world:

  • The United States boasts the somewhat larger American bald eagle as its national bird - and indeed, national animal. It has held this status since 1782 and appears on the US seal
  • The colourful Indian peacock has been the national bird of India since 1963, reportedly chosen because of its distribution within the country and its association with national myths and legends
  • France has the Gallic rooster as its national bird - the Latin word Gallus meaning "inhabitant of Gaul" as well as "rooster".
  • In Australia, the emu appears on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, along with the kangaroo

Mr Lindo has said he would speak to the government to ask for the winner to be officially recognised as Britain's national bird.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the robin is totally entwined into our national psyche - it is the Christmas card pin-up and the supposed gardeners' friend.

"So the robin's everywhere. And I think most people would cite the robin as one of the birds that they actually could recognise."

Image source, Science Photo Library
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The wren came in fourth place
Image source, Thinkstock
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The red kite completes the top five
Image source, Thinkstock
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And bird lovers voted the kingfisher into sixth place

Most voters - some 60% - were not associated with bird-watching or conservation organisations, meaning a "completely new audience" now had a "vested interest in nature", added Mr Lindo.

"It's great to reach a new audience and get people thinking about birds, so it has been a great success."

He said the blackbird had been in second place until children's votes were counted - and that they favoured the owl.