- Online poll asks public to choose their favourite bird from 60 candidates
- The robin is top of the shortlist, followed by the barn owl and kingfisher
- Surprise inclusions include predators the red kite and hen harrier
- More than 20,000 votes have been cast so far with poll closing in October
The robin has taken an early lead in a poll to find Britain’s national bird, but is facing competition from some more surprising species.
Two predators pushed to the brink of extinction – the hen harrier and the red kite – are both in the top ten after two weeks of voting in the Vote National Bird poll.
Run by David Lindo, a broadcaster known as the Urban Birder, it asks the public to choose their favourite bird from 60 candidates that range from mute swans to wrens.
Flying high: The online poll asks the public to choose their favourite bird from 60 candidates that range from mute swans to wrens - the Robin, pictured, is topping the list so far
In the running: Unlike most countries, Britain has no official national bird. With more than 20,000 votes cast at votenationalbird.com, the barn owl, left, is in second place and the kingfisher, right, is in third
Surprise inclusion: Mr Lido said that he was most surprised to see the hen harrier, pictured, making the top 10. He attributed the rare bird of prey's appearance in the list to the recent efforts to raise awareness of its plight
With more than 20,000 votes cast at votenationalbird.com, the robin has its beak in front, followed by the barn owl and the kingfisher.
Unlike most countries, Britain has no official national bird. A previous poll in 1966 saw the Robin voted the nation favourite.
Mr Lindo said it was no surprise that the robin was the favourite at this stage. He said: ‘People feel the robin is a friendly bird which greets them whenever they go into the garden.’
FINDING THE NATION'S FAVOURITE BIRD: THE TOP 10 SO FAR
- Barn owl
- Blue tit
- Mute swan
- Hen harrier
- Red kite
Other garden favourites the blue tit and blackbird have also made the cut. While the inclusion of the species such as the puffin ensures there is plenty of variety in the shortlist.
Mr Lido said the biggest surprise in the top 10 so far was the hen harrier. He attributed the rare bird of prey’s appearance in the list to the recent efforts to raise awareness of its plight.
He said: 'It’s picked up a lot of fans trying to make a big noise about it. It’s good it’s coming into the top 10, it’s a good opportunity to show people about a new bird to them, and it’s very British.'
The red kite has also made it into the list - in tenth place - after reintroduction schemes helped it return from near-extinction to being an increasingly familiar sight in UK skies.
Mr Lindo said: 'I think it’s quite interesting that the red kite is in there, maybe 15 years ago people would never have considered it but thanks to reintroduction schemes it’s become a familiar bird to a lot of people, particularly in rural areas. They’re beautiful to watch.'
He added: 'It’s also good that there’s things like the puffin in there, it’s good it’s not just 10 garden birds.'
The poll closes in October, with the top six going through to a second vote next year. Each species in the top six will be championed by a different celebrity. The second round of voting will run from January to General Election day in 2015.
Variety: Species like the puffin, left, and the mute swan, right, make sure that the list is not made up of just 10 British garden birds. The poll closes in October, with the top sixth going through to a second vote next year
Predator: The red kite has also made it into the top 10 at this stage after reintroduction schemes helped it return from near-extinction to being an increasingly familiar sight in UK skies, particularly in rural areas