The scarlet honeyeater is birdwatcher Alan Peebles' favourite local bird.
The scarlet honeyeater is birdwatcher Alan Peebles' favourite local bird. Contributed

Magpie, fairy wren are frontrunners for favourite bird

THE Australian magpie and superb fairy-wren are two frontrunners for the title of Australia's favourite bird in the national poll being run by BirdLife Australia, with the superb fairy-wren clearly ahead of the flock in Queensland.

During Bird Week 2013, which runs from October 19-25, Queensland's favourite bird faces some stiff competition from other states.

The Australian magpie is leading in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, the powerful owl in New South Wales, the red-necked stint in South Australia, Carnaby's black cockatoo in Western Australia and the tawny frogmouth in the Northern Territory.

Hervey Bay's own bird guru Alan Peebles said he was surprised the magpie was so high on the list, being a colourless bird, although he said its familiarity with the masses probably helped its case.

"The superb wren is dainty and more colourful, but wouldn't be my choice," he said.

"If a wren was to be chosen, the variegated wren has an extra colour of red, which helps make it stand out more in the bush."

When questioned on his own favourite bird species, Mr Peebles said it was tough to choose.

"It's a hard question for me to narrow a choice down to one as there are so many beautiful birds around," he said.

"Probably my favourite local bird is the scarlet honeyeater.

"When seen close up, its red and black colours standing out against green foliage makes it a striking bird to come across.

"However for me to choose one all round that the public generally couldn't resist and would be proud of, it would be the azure kingfisher.

"Its colours jump out at you and almost takes your breath away."

The campaign has heated up with a number of bird-loving celebrities, including Australian comedian Julia Zemiro, ABC Landline's Pip Courtney, television and radio presenter Dave Hughes and Gardening Australia host Angus Stewart, "flying in" to campaign for their favourite birds.

BirdLife Australia's CEO Paul Sullivan said more than 2000 people had voted so far, and he said he wasn't surprised the early results showed clear appreciation of different species in different parts of Australia.

"With different birds leading in each state we're sure to see plenty of competition as Australia chooses its favourite," he said.

"Not only are people voting, they are also taking the time to stop and notice the birds that live around them."

The poll is part of a series of activities being run during Bird Week 2013 in Queensland to encourage people to "meet the neighbours" and get involved in bird conservation.

Vote for your favourite bird at www.australiasfavouritebird.org.au.

The poll closes on October 31.