The hi tech of Twitter, made me wonder , what is Ireland's official National Bird? For curiosity sake I did a quick Google search and turned up nothing. I turned to the authority on all things Irish, Niall O'Dowd, his reply was the seagull. I doubted that one, and his reasoning for using the seagull is better left unsaid.
Many countries have a national bird. The U.S adopted the eagle, even though Ben Franklin thought it should be the wild turkey. Some countries adopted the Osprey. Others have flamingos, swallows and owls. Ireland does not have an official National Bird that I can find and I think it needs to address this issue. It shouldn't cost any money to do it and it would be good symbolism.
Talking to others, it has been suggested that the hardy wren or bunting be adopted as the national bird. They're tough and even through the lean times of winter, they're resilient and survive. Some say the kestrel is a good choice, for its speed and hunting skills.
There was also a vote for the golden goose, but all suggestions have to be for live species of birds, not extinct ones. I believe the last golden goose went extinct in Washington DC back in 2008.
But my vote is for that native bird of Ireland, the raven. His plumage runs ebony to cobalt blue, no chirp or tweet, but deep croaks and other emanations for communication. He soars above us on great wings, playful, somersaulting and aerobatic. Is there anything more beautiful than a Raven soaring above The Cliffs on a crisp clear day? The raven can mimic the sounds of other birds, animals and man and yes it can speak your language.
They are hardy birds who use their ingenuity and intelligence to survive in all conditions. They are also one of only a few species who make their own tools. They have been observed breaking off twigs to play with socially and use for food gathering.
The Raven has been around Ireland forever and is steeped in Celtic mythology. It is believed to be an "Oracle bird", a bearer of messages from the Otherworld. The Druids believed that certain people could interpret the cries of the raven and were able to communicate in the "language of the birds." Which has truth to it because they are easily taught to speak.
Scientists think the Raven is among the most intelligent in the animal kingdom. http://www.ibabuzz.com/garybogue/2009/11/09/ravens-want-to-see-how-smart-these-big-birds-are-check-out-this-video/
Over the years I have had many encounters with Ravens and have been amazed at their beauty, intelligence & mischievousness:
I have had them swoop down and snatch food off of my BBQ grill while I left it unattended for a moment. Then watched them up in the trees laughing at me while they enjoyed my dinner. It taught me to keep a closer eye on my food.
Some cagey miners in gold country purposely left objects out for ravens to take, knowing they might return with a shiny object in exchange. Sometimes the shiny object could be a gold nugget in their beak. Legend has it, some miners followed the birds and have been lead to a main gold deposit.
Ravens don't like their tranquility disturbed and know how to restore order in their neighborhood. A barking dog on the deck of an anchored boat raised the ire of a Raven perched in the nearby trees. He swooped down and hovered over the dog just out reach, teasing it to distraction, so much so, it fell overboard 10' into the frigid waters of the ocean. The owner immediately rescued the dog and put the shivering, now silent pooch down below decks.
But ravens are intelligent enough to recognize who their human "friends" are too and if you have extended a kindness to them, they will remember you for life.
So all in all I think the raven wins the official National Bird nomination on all counts, intelligent, resourceful, graceful, mischievous and a sense of fair play. Surviving and thriving all over the world. Doesn't that exemplify what we are?
For other points of view visit Carroll Standard: www.carrollstandard.com