Israel Chooses National Bird
The nation of Israel has finally chosen their national bird. After months of selecting and voting, it would seem that the Hoopoe had the most votes. This pretty little bird managed to scoop a massive 35% of the votes, giving it the prestige of becoming the new symbol of Israel.
It all started last December when more than 1 000 bird lovers were asked to select 50 nominees for the title out of an even longer list of candidates. The selection process took place at a seminar held at the Tel Aviv University and the results were quite surprising. The resulting fifty birds were then narrowed down even further to just ten different birds – all of which were vastly different from each other. The finalists were the bulbul (Pycnonotidae), the goldfinch, the red falcon, the spur-winged plover, the biblical vulture, the warbler, the honey-sucker, the white-chested kingfisher, the hoopoe and the white barn owl. The final choice was then left to the results of a nationwide election held by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which took several months and saw approximately 155 000 people vote.
It would seem that the humble but attractive hoopoe managed to get the majority of the votes, even receiving the majority of internet votes in the election held by Ynet. Clearly it was the overall favorite of the bunch. The final result was recently announced by President Shimon Peres. After announcing the winner, President Peres praised the election and noted that there was a dire need in our present time for “green scenery, fresh air and the beautiful, multi-colored birds” that regularly flock to Israel. He further added that ornithology was one of the main assets of the country and lamented over the fact that so many birds that were once common in Israel have since become rare or disappeared from the country completely. Peres spoke of talks being conducted with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding the returning of several of these birds to their natural habitats.
President Peres admitted that he had personally voted for the vulture, but also felt that the dove would have been a very fitting symbol for his country and he was disappointed that it was not one of the finalists. According to Peres, some 500 million birds make their way through Israelite skies every year – a massive accomplishment for such a small country. Hopefully the choice of national bird will be just one small step in a long list of environmental achievements that will see many more birds return to this country.