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Calgarians one step closer to choosing the city’s official bird

A Calgary city committee has endorsed an idea from one local councillor that would see Calgarians vote to choose an official city bird.

The notice of motion, brought forward by Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, was passed 13 to one by the city’s executive committee with only Coun. Sean Chu opposed.

A final say is still required by city council as a whole at the end of March.

Bird Friendly Calgary has shortlisted five bird species to be voted upon by the public: the Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Flicker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay and Black-billed Magpie.

“While my children affectionately refer to them as bully birds, (magpies) are actually very good at keeping our city clean and they’re very good at keeping our city pest free,” Penner said.

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Penner said the five birds were brought forward after consultation with Indigenous groups as well as nature organizations.

If Penner’s motion gets the final green light from city council, Calgarians will be given the chance to vote online for the city’s official bird between April 1 and May 1, 2022. The winner would be announced on May 14, World Migratory Bird Day, and made official at the June 7 meeting of council.

Last year, Calgary was certified as a bird-friendly city by Nature Canada, and Penner said the Calgarians are being asked to designate an official bird to represent the city as part of that designation.

“It’s a little bit nominal, it’s fun, but what we’re trying to do is drive the conversation around the importance of integrating urban wildlife into the city, and talking about having a healthy ecological habitat,” Penner said.

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According to Penner, Bird Friendly Calgary would provide background information and educational material to help Calgarians learn more about the birds before they vote.

The city is home to more than 200 bird species.

“It’s important for Calgary to recognize that we have a very biodiverse neighbourhood,” Penner said. “We are a bird-enthusiastic city.”

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