Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary’s official bird: Citizens may have say on top beak

It’s a debate that’s bound to get some people in a flap.

No, we’re not talking about urban hens. That’s so 2021.

We’re talking about naming Calgary’s official bird.

At Tuesday’s executive committee meeting, there’s a notice of motion being put forward by Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner to support the selection of an official city bird in partnership with Bird Friendly Calgary.

The help would also include creating an online voting system.

In 2021, Calgary was designated a bird-friendly city by Nature Canada. Nature Canada recommends that to retain the city’s bird-friendly certification Calgary must name an official city bird via public vote.

The designation of a city bird is supported by the City of Calgary’s BiodiverCity Advisory Committee. That’s how Coun. Penner first got involved.

“Biodiversity in the city is something that’s important to me,” Penner told LiveWire Calgary.

“I talked about it throughout the campaign. And so as one of our volunteer, citizen-led committees, I wanted to let them know that I was a supportive councillor.”


The vote is a chance to keep birds on Calgarians’ brains.

“We have a range of migratory birds that come, we have some we know that stay year-round and don’t migrate,” Penner said.  

“It’s a really neat opportunity to talk about that biodiversity that we have the talk about the number of different bird species that come through the city.”

Pecking order?

Sara Jordan-McLachlan, Nature Canada liaison with Bird Friendly Calgary, said even though we’re a certified bird-friendly city, we don’t have an official beak in the game.

With the help of different birding and environmental groups, Jordan-McLachlan said they were able to shortlist five feathered friends.

The shortlist: The Magpie, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, the Blue Jay, the Black-capped Chickadee and the Northern Flicker.

Jordan-McLachlan said there’s sure to be a debate. The Magpie is one of those love-it-or-leave-it birds for many Calgarians. Not so for birders, it seems.

“I mean, Magpies are a contentious species, and I myself was pretty surprised when I saw that it received the second number of votes in the top five,” Jordan-McLachlan said.

“Among the birding community, Magpies are fairly popular, I would say.”

She added that the Northern Flicker would likely be another debate. While it’s a nice bird, it can be a bit of a nuisance. It has a habit of pecking things we rather it wouldn’t.

The decision will be left up to Calgarians. If approved, citizens can vote starting April 1 via the City’s engage website. Voting would end May 1.

Bird Friendly Calgary will be supporting the vote with information and education on the choices.

The notice of motion will be reviewed on its technical merit on Tuesday. If approved it would be open for debate at the next full meeting of council.

The results would be announced on World Migratory Bird Day on May 14. The winning bird would be officially adopted at the June 7 combined meeting of council.