Blackbird, pigeon or sparrow – Germany chooses the super bird

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They call themselves “blackbird whisperers”, “jay fan club” or “golden plover ultras”. Your goal: to choose your candidate as “Bird of the Year”.

“Bird of the year” wanted

Hilpoltstein / Ingolstadt (dpa) – Rudolf Wittmann and his team gave everything for their candidate. The “Ingolstädter Amselflüsterer” printed and hung up election posters, got promotions on social media and organized virtual panel discussions.

Success is within reach: it will shortly be clear whether the blackbird will make it to the finals and whether it has a chance of becoming “Bird of the Year” in 2021. But in the final spurt it could be exciting again.

For 50 years, the German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu) and the Bavarian State Association for Bird Protection (LBV) have named a new “Bird of the Year” every year. In 1971 the peregrine falcon was not only allowed to adorn itself with the title as the first bird, but also, according to the LBV, as the first living creature ever. In the meantime all kinds of animal and plant species, fungi, lichens and even microbes of the year have been added.

In the anniversary year, however, everything is different: Instead of the experts, the bird enthusiasts themselves can vote for the “Bird of the Year” for the first time. Turtle dove, lapwing, kingfisher, white stork and skylark – they have all been in the spotlight once (or even twice) for a year, but the blackbird has never been.

However, this is the ideal candidate, says Wittmann. One that could inspire the masses. “As Bird of the Year, we need a popular bird that many can identify with.” And in general, the blackbird is one of the best singers in the bird kingdom, he and the other “blackbird whisperers” from the LBV district group in Ingolstadt think.

But other teams also create a great atmosphere for their favorite bird on the Internet. Above all, the “golden plover ultras” around writer Sa? A Stani? I?, Who catches votes on Twitter with humorous sayings and cute chick photos. The climate activist Luisa Neubauer, the author Margarete Stokowski and the left-wing member of the Bundestag Anke Domscheit-Berg are also committed to “Goldi”, as the bird is affectionately known by its fans, according to Nabu.

307 birds widespread in Germany can still be voted on the “Bird of the Year” homepage until Tuesday (December 15). More than 100,000 bird lovers have already cast their votes. The ten birds with the most votes will make it to the final round, in which citizens will be asked again from January 18. Two months later, on March 19, the “Bird of the Year” for 2021 will be announced.

«You don’t need any prior knowledge. You can simply choose the bird you like best, ”says Stefanie Bernhardt from the LBV in Hilpoltstein. The “Bird of the Year” 2021 does not necessarily have to be someone who is endangered, whose habitat is particularly valuable or who is enthusiastic about ornithologists. “We are very open-minded about the outcome,” says Bernhardt.

The bird, which is currently number 1, surprised the conservationists a bit. There is the city pigeon – a bird that many people consider neither beautiful nor worth protecting and which polarizes like no other. While some despise the pigeon as the “rat of the air”, others happily feed it with breadcrumbs and grains.

The “Birds of the Year” usually represent a major nature conservation issue: the turtledove, for example, for the loss of habitat due to industrial agriculture, the common snipe for the disappearance of moors and wetlands, or the green woodpecker for the importance of orchards. And what could the city pigeon stand for?

“I do not want to rule out that jokers have captured the annual bird campaign here,” says Wolfgang Fiedler, President of the German Ornithological Society. Nonetheless, he was able to gain many interesting aspects from the city pigeon. “In her case, it would be less about the causes of danger, but the reflection of the relationship between humans and birds could very nicely come into focus and thus also interesting ethical questions.”

But which bird will win at the end of the race will only be decided in the final. And in this, “Blackbird Whisperer” Wittmann is certain, the blackbird will beat the city pigeon. “We’re really going full throttle again.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201213-99-678536 / 2



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