It came down to six feathery finalists in Regina’s Bird Friendly City contest, but only one could soar above the rest to be named the city’s official bird: the black-capped chickadee.
“The black-capped chickadee is small bird that punches above its weight, just like Regina, we’re a small-medium sized city that punches above our weight here in Canada,” Ryan Fisher, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and defender of the chickadee in the contest said at the announcement at city hall on Friday.
“Unlike a lot of the other birds in the contest, the black-capped chickadee stays around Regina 12 months of the year showing its heartiness and resourcefulness, just like the people of Regina.”
Fisher said it was exciting to have his tiny contender win after a hard-fought campaign. He enjoyed talking about the chickadee and other birds in interviews.
“We have six different birds here that were part of the contest that anyone can go see,” he said. “The ability in one small city to see all six of those species I think is really, really special.”
Regina’s new official bird was up against the American pelican, Canada goose, grey partridge, peregrine falcon and red-breasted nuthatch.
The small but mighty contest winner — which was announced on National Bird Day — received more than 8,700 votes, with over 21,000 votes submitted in total.
Mayor Sandra Masters said the response from residents was outstanding.
“In terms of the City of Regina with a quarter of a million people, 700 nominations for different types of birds means we have a very active bird community here in our city,” she said at Friday’s announcement.
“It has been wonderful to see residents voice their opinion as to which bird should be our official bird to represent our city.”
Choosing an official bird will allow Regina to advance itself as a Bird Friendly City, after receiving the designation in March 2022. The volunteer committee has 14 members from environmental non-profits such as Nature Saskatchewan, Nature Regina and Salthaven West.
Regina is the fifth municipality in Canada to earn Nature Canada’s Bird Friendly City designation.
Angela Tremka, program coordinator with Bird Friendly Regina said the contest was crucial in directing attention to the important roles the nominated birds play as well as the challenges they face.
“It brought people together, it encouraged connection, it ruffled some feathers, it evoked laughter, it gave space for these important conversations and it gave a voice to the birds for us to advocate on their behalf,” she said at the announcement on Friday.
Tremka described the black-capped chickadee as “super adaptable, feisty, and cute,” with a “remarkable and almost frightening memory.”
Moving forward, Tremka said they hope to have a lot of fun with the city’s new official bird and include it in their future events.
“We’re working with the City of Regina to ensure that we can be the best, most healthy place for birds to survive,” she said, adding they have many events planned and items to work toward.
“We’re going to make sure that the chickadee is at the forefront of all of those issues, starting with, for example window collisions, which is a huge cause of birds declining across all of North America.”