Opinion Column

Vancouver's official bird set to be unveiled Thursday

By Steve Burgess

A Northern Flicker hunts for food. (Codie McLachlan/Postmedia Network/Files)

A Northern Flicker hunts for food. (Codie McLachlan/Postmedia Network/Files)

The winner of this year's Official Vancouver City Bird vote will be announced Thursday at the Vancouver Library. Anna’s Hummingbird, the Northern Flicker, the Varied Thrush, and the Spotted Towhee are this year's candidates.

Campaigns are always nasty affairs, and each of these birds entered the election with political baggage. The Varied Thrush belongs to the family of birds called Turdidae, which is a stupid name. The Spotted Towhee has a name that looks like a typo and rarely survives autocorrect. The Northern Flicker is really a woodpecker but has adopted a misleading name for some suspicious reason, and doesn't look anything like Woody, who would at least be a star candidate. As for Anna's Hummingbird, it is named after Anne d'Essling, a Frenchwoman who was the chief courtier to the last Empress of France, Eugenie, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, a copycat Napoleon who was nowhere near as great as Napoleon Bonaparte and frankly barely makes a list of Top Three Napoleons. Who wants an official bird named after the chief stooge of the wife of a third-rate Napoleon? If we're going to have an official bird named after a famous person, why not Russell Crowe? Or Dean Martin? Maybe Florence Nightingale?

We are not even sure there will be a clear winner. What if recounts are requested? Might we see a bird coalition? Spotted Towhee and Varied Thrush are members of closely related bird families and could be seen as natural coalition partners. But there is no telling how these things will play out.

Just look at Andrew Weaver and the Green Party. After gaining three seats and a possible balance of power position in the provincial election, many observers believed the Greens would be natural partners for the NDP in a coalition government. But as we await two judicial recounts and the tallying of absentee ballots next week, Weaver has been making some critical remarks that seem directed against John Horgan's party, leading some observers to believe he will instead throw his support to Christy Clark and the BC Liberals. Strange as it might seem for the Greens to support the party pushing LNG development, pipelines, and the Site C Dam project, the prospect is beginning to look more likely.

When the dealing is done we could end up with a Right-Wing Blackbird and Napoleon IV, in no particular order. It's been that kind of year.