Friends of Reston have announced that out of five birds nominated to be the official bird of Reston, one has received the most votes. In an election conducted online and by paper ballot, 2,748 total votes were counted and verified. The Pileated Woodpecker received 632 votes (23 percent). In second place was the Eastern Bluebird with 597 votes (22 percent). In third to fifth place were the American Goldfinch with 514 votes (19 percent), the Barred Owl with 474 votes (17 percent), and the Great Blue Heron with 431 votes (16 percent). These close results validate the selection of nominated birds, which Reston naturalists chose for year-round presence, ease of recognition and beauty.
“There wasn’t a loser among them,” said Katie Shaw, executive director of Friends of Reston. “They were all good nominees. The voting was great community fun, and the Pileated Woodpecker will be a great bird to celebrate and conserve in the years to come.” Shaw reported that 100 voters offered write-in candidates that included the Cardinal, House Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbird.
At the Oct. 23 meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors, Friends of Reston president, Jessica Robinson, will present a proposal requesting the board to sanction the Pileated Woodpecker as the Official Bird of Reston. Among other plans for its popularity, Friends of Reston will add the Pileated Woodpecker as one of Reston’s mascots, joining Earl the Squirrel and Myrtle the Turtle as a character at special events. So far, the favored name for the new mascot is Walker the Woodpecker.
Friends of Reston initiated the bird vote in the spring in honor of Reston’s 50th birthday this year. From May 3 through Sept. 30, the election was conducted with an online survey via the Friends of Reston’s Facebook page and paper ballots collected at various locations including Walker Nature Center, Reston Association, community festivals, Reston Farmers Market, and The Bird Feeder store. Reston Association’s summer campers also participated in voting, as well as six of Reston’s elementary schools. Teachers expressed appreciation for their students having an opportunity to learn about their community and its birds, as well as the democratic process.
With official designation, Reston’s bird may join the ranks of the Bald Eagle and the Cardinal, which represent the U.S.A. and Virginia, respectively.
More information is available at Reston.org/InsideRA/FriendsofReston, and for the latest updates, follow Friends of Reston on Facebook.