When a tiny bird landed on Bernie Sanders’ podium during a speech in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, it brought the crowd to its feet. The moment, captured on video, soon became an Internet sensation with its own hashtag: #BirdieSanders
The scene seemed straight out of an animated Disney flick. Just as Sanders noticed the bird flying by, it perched itself on his podium for a long while, eventually flying away. But not before giving Sanders one of the most memorable moments of his campaign.
“It was hard to miss the symbolism,” Liz Deluna, a longtime birdwatcher with the American Birding Association, told TheWrap. “Birds are little miracles. But to have them in the spotlight in the middle of a big political rally is really cool.”
According to Deluna, the tiny show-stealer was a male house finch, a bird native to North America. There are an estimated 267 million to 1.7 billion house finches in North America today. But only one managed to steal the spotlight from a presidential candidate, giving his supporters a fuzzy moment during an election cycle dominated by ugly rhetoric.
While house finches are not especially afraid of humans, Deluna says she was surprised to see the tiny bird so comfortable in the middle of a crowded and boisterous rally. “It was pretty impressive,” she said.
The moment seemed to capture people’s imagination.
“Birds have a special effect on people,” American Birding Association president Jeff Gordon told TheWrap. “They’re thought of as harbingers, they bring peace. The return of robins is the sign of spring. We think of them as messengers, they seem almost magical.”
Just hours after the Birdie-Sanders encounter, the Vermont senator went on to have one of his best days of his presidential campaign, winning all three of Saturday’s Democratic presidential contests by a landslide.
“It was just nice that a bird was getting all that attention,” Deluna said. “Hopefully it will inspire people to love and protect wild birds in the future.
You can watch Birdie Sanders in the video below: