Reston, VA – Friends of Reston has announced that out of five birds nominated to be the Official Bird of Reston, the Pileated Woodpecker has received the most votes. In an election conducted online and by paper ballot, 2,748 total votes were counted and verified this week. The Pileated Woodpecker received 632 votes (23%). In second place was the Eastern Bluebird with 597 votes (22%). In third to fifth place were the American Goldfinch with 514 votes (19%), the Barred Owl with 474 votes (17%), and the Great Blue Heron with 431 votes (16%). 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 October 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 September 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 Farmer’s 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. About the Pileated Woodpecker: This beneficial, adaptable bird is Virginia’s largest woodpecker, as large as a crow, reaching a size of 16 – 19 inches long with a wing span of 26 – 30 inches across. They are mainly black with a prominent red crest and a white stripe along their throat. They are noted for their loud ‘laugh’ of a call and the drumming sound they make when pecking into wood to find insects, show off, and proclaim their territory. They are non-migratory and stay in their territory with their mate all year round.
The Pileated Woodpecker is commonly sighted in all four sectors of the annual Reston bird counts. Its presence is a strong indicator of the abundance of healthy forested habitat in Reston, which is home to 182 species of birds. For the 20th consecutive year, Reston has received designation as a Tree City USA for 2014, and in 2000, Reston was the 3rd in the nation to be certified as a Community Wildlife Habitat by National Wildlife Foundation.
Friends of Reston (FOR), established in 1999, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that supports Reston Association (RA) through charitable, educational, and scientific activities. FOR operates with an all-volunteer board of directors that works together to raise funds through donations and special events for a variety of community projects including the annual 5K Fund Run, Better Said Than Done storytelling nights, Re-Energize Reston, RA camp scholarships for children, benches for RA facilities, environment and habitat enhancements, and the flagship achievement, the LEED Gold Certified Nature House at the 72-acre Walker Nature Center. Nature House facilitates a variety of programs, special events, free film screenings, and much more, and is available for private occasions. FOR is based at the Walker Nature Center, 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191, T: 703-476-9689.