October 20, 2006
Total votes cast: 11,244!
The suspense was palatable over the past several months and debate raged over what bird was best suited for the job, but in the end, the race went to the swift-the osprey, which was declared the winner of the Nassau County Official Bird Contest, with 5,547 votes, 49%. The Tree Swallow was second with 3,864 and the American Oystercatcher remained the underdog through the campaign, with 1,833.
"I am so pleased with the overwhelming response to our contest,” said Jacobs. “Everyone responded to the bird vote with enthusiasm, passion and great interest. I know the osprey is a noble, determined and fitting symbol for our County.”
Jacobs kicked off the contest back in August at the Garden City Bird Sanctuary, where she was joined by Robert Alvey, Founder of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary; Karl Brummert, Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; Aaron Virgin, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center; and June Fay, Garden City Bird Sanctuary board member and secretary.
Alvey and the others helped narrow the contestants down to three and then voters were able to visit the Nassau County website to vote, or send in a write-in ballot. More than 18 local schools, elementary through high schools, got involved with the vote, using the contest as an example to teach students about the democratic voting process, the environment, land preservation and ecology.
Teresa Rolla, Student Government Advisor for H. Frank Carey High School, stated “The student body of H. Frank Carey High School was so happy to participate in the ‘Official Nassau County Bird Campaign.’ We were eager to help raise awareness about protecting these birds and their natural habitats.
“The Seahawk (Osprey) just happens to be our school mascot, which made this campaign even more exciting. We enjoyed setting up a school and community-wide ‘Vote for the Osprey aka Seahawk Campaign.’ The Student Government included the social studies and science departments in this venture. We campaigned with flyers, buttons, and information about all three birds at meetings and events, of course, hoping the Osprey would win!”
The winning Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is a medium large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a world-wide distribution. It is also known as the fish hawk, sea hawk or fish eagle. As fish eaters, they are more restricted to water sites, and have had a significant decline in population from DDT as well as a loss of nesting sites. Over the last decade, several nesting sites have been erected, and their population has slowly been rebounding.
“I believe that this contest put a spotlight on the birds of Nassau County, educated residents regarding the variety of species we have here in the County and also generated an interest in protecting the birds and their habitats,” said Jacobs. “In addition, many of our local schools got very involved in the race, and used this contest as a learning tool to teach students about the voting process.”
Jacobs will be inviting many of the students who participated in the vote to visit the Legislature when she marks the official announcement. H. Carey High School in Franklin Square boasts the osprey as its official mascot and students at that school have invited Jacobs to take part in the Homecoming Day Parade.
H. Carey High School Student Comments:
"It brought our school together as a whole because everybody took the time to vote. It showed that Carey students really cared about their school.” Elena Ferriolo
"It raised awareness that the Seahawk really does exist! That it is not just sighted in our orange black and white school colors!” Dorey Veron
"I thought it was amazing because I never knew there really was a Seahawk, and I am glad we have a real flying mascot to represent us!” Ronnie Eith
"It encouraged school spirit!” Jenna Feibus
"There was an overwhelming response to ‘voting for the bird,’ and it truly brought the community together with one fell swoop!” Chelsea Bertini