Blackbirds must wait

The red-winged blackbird could be Cannon Beach's official bird.

The coronation of the red-winged blackbird as the official bird of Cannon Beach will have to wait.

While city councilors indicated Tuesday, May 8, they generally support the bird’s ascension to the throne, they voted 3-2 to table the proclamation to allow more time for public comment.

“I prefer that we have public input,” City Councilor George Vetter said. “I don’t want people to come back and say ‘Gee, where did this come from?’ and ask about why their favorite bird wasn’t considered.”

The idea was brought to the City Council in April by Neal Maine, a longtime nature photographer and representative of the 12 Days of Earth Day committee. The group wanted the city to recognize an official bird to honor the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a landmark federal law that protects dozens of species of birds.

The medium-sized, black-and-red songbird was chosen because they are abundant and represent the local ecology, Maine said in April. Recognizing the birds would also hold historical value as many live on the Little Pompey Wetland — a marsh named after the son of Sacagawea from the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Cannon Beach Elementary School fifth-graders more than 20 years ago.

But some city councilors couldn’t help but address the tufted puffin in the room.

“I was just talking to someone today about this, and the first thing they asked was ‘What about the puffins?’ I don’t think it’s been acknowledged and announced in a way to invite public comment,” City Councilor Mike Benefield said. “Because it addresses the public image of the city, I don’t mind pushing it back to get more input.”

Some in the community have raised eyebrows as to why the town’s iconic bird took a back seat during the nomination process. Maine argued in April the red-winged blackbird is more visible than the elusive tufted puffin — which only nests a few months of the year at Haystack Rock — and that it was important to “give credit to another species.”

Mayor Sam Steidel and City Councilor Brandon Ogilvie were the two dissenting votes, but chose not to offer reasons as to why.

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