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"Screw cardinals."
May 20, 2013 11:59 AM   Subscribe

A judgmental survey of America's state birds, with suggestions for improvements.
posted by Iridic (172 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
If we change the Massachusetts state bird to the piping plover, can we outlaw all those idiotic "piping plover tastes like chicken" bumper stickers?

Because I'd be for that.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:05 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is my favorite state bird column ever.
posted by shothotbot at 12:06 PM on May 20, 2013 [24 favorites]


The Maine state bird should really be the loon. It really represents the essence of the state: you're walking in the woods late at night, you hear a terrifying loon call, you turn to run and fall into a ravine, where you are run over by an ATV.
posted by selfnoise at 12:06 PM on May 20, 2013 [28 favorites]


49. Wisconsin. Official state bird: American robin
I just … I can’t.


Fucking A right.

Goddamn worthless robins. They bounce around, all "Look at me! I'm a robin! Yay me!" Every time, I hope for a crow to swoop in and say "Hello! I'm evil incarnate! Flee little useless thing!" or some kind of hawk to do that jet fighter thing where one second there is a robin and the next there is just a cloud of slowly spiraling feathers.

But it never happens.

Stupid fucking robins.
posted by quin at 12:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


What makes this even less funny is that there are like eight other states with mockingbird as their official bird.
No. Mockingbirds are awesome. I have seen nesting mockingbirds fight off squirrels. They will fight off dogs. They will fight you, if you step to their nest. They build their nests, like, 4 feet off the ground, because they just don't give a fuck about what you're bringing. Mockingbirds deserve to be the state bird in, like, 20 states.

Also, they eat bugs and don't eat your crop seed.
posted by muddgirl at 12:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [27 favorites]


I love how midway through the column it becomes increasingly clear that the writer is drunk:

39. Rhode Island. Official state bird: Rhode Island red chicken
Hahaha, Rhode Island you so crazy.
What it should be: bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. Ha ha just kidding! Rhode Island red chicken


No link, there, mind; just the author repeating the bird's name a third time before he thinks of another bird.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Glad to see my state of Vermont has it right with the hermit thrush (which sings in my woods every evening).
posted by beagle at 12:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know how parents say that thing, “if everybody can’t have it, then nobody can have it”? Well, I’m doing that for cardinal. No one gets the cardinal. Screw cardinals.

We had "state scrapbook" projects when I was in 5th grade. Each kid got to pick a state and do a year-long report on it, covering everything from state landmarks, to history, to population demographics, to climate, to fun things to do there, etc. State symbols was obviously an included section.

I did my project on Indiana, since that's where my whole family came from. Indiana's state bird is the cardinal. The cardinal is a shitty bird.

And then at the end of the year, when everyone's project was completed and we had them all out and displayed, I went through everyone's to compare. And fucking half of the class had a chapter on FUCKING CARDINALS.

So glad that this author shares my disdain.
posted by phunniemee at 12:09 PM on May 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Maine state bird should really be the loon.

And if the Maine state bird is the loon, that means we can make the Minnesota state bird the mosquito.

Deal.
posted by eriko at 12:09 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Loons Norman! Look at the Loons Norman!

She says before boat strikes rocks almost killing them both.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:10 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I once heard a mockingbird imitating a car alarm. It was the most badass thing ever.
posted by duvatney at 12:11 PM on May 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


22. Michigan. Official state bird: American robin
The most endangered bird in the nation lives ONLY (pretty much) in your state! Don’t you want tourists and pride and crap? Uggghhhh.
What it should be: Kirtland’s warbler


I've been pissin' 'n moanin' about this since I was damned kid.
posted by NoMich at 12:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


IMO the state bird and governor of every state should be: Emperor penguin
posted by theodolite at 12:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why do so many states have the northern cardinal though? Is this shameful propaganda from Big Cardinal?
posted by elizardbits at 12:13 PM on May 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


ATV needs to be all full o Steven Kings. Wielding a lobster.

Some damn cool birds there. You should get some bloke to make a 'normous book about 'em.
posted by Ahab at 12:16 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like cardinals so fuck everybody who doesn't. Fuck you in the ear.
posted by COBRA! at 12:16 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, the Eastern Goldfinch is a boring ass bird.
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on May 20, 2013


Three robins but no blue jay?

Probably because blue jays suck.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:17 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is it with mockingbirds? I do not understand. They are garbage birds that eat dumpster trash! Is that what you want to identify with, Tennessee?

Don't answer that.
posted by goethean at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


I once observed a mockingbird outside my window, marveling at the beautiful varied songs it was singing. Then it paused for a moment and started squawking like a crow! I couldn't believe it. So I love them.

And I have a pair of Baltimore Orioles in the tall oaks behind my patio this spring. What a lovely and distinctive little bird with a nice song. So here is a shout out for the Baltimore Oriole.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gotta say I agree with California. The condors are fucking badass. They're the size of a small adult human and they fly. They have some at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and they fly around and you can feel the wind from their wings if you're twelve feet away and they look at you and do not give one single fuck.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Probably because blue jays suck.

A bird's default setting shouldn't be "sassy."
posted by COBRA! at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


muddgirl: "Mockingbirds are awesome."

Goddamn right they are.
posted by boo_radley at 12:19 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


He's absolutely right. That cerulean warbler is beautiful.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:19 PM on May 20, 2013


The Maine state bird should really be the loon.

Ahh, I get it. Because Maine's current governor is one.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:19 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Florida's state bird should totally be a bird that's not native to Florida. So meta!
posted by saladin at 12:20 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was always a bit embarrassed about New Jersey's Eastern Goldfinch - then I discover we share it with Iowa, which isn't even in the east! - Now I can't tell if I feel better or worse...
posted by jalexei at 12:20 PM on May 20, 2013


I've moved west of cardinal territory and miss them, but 7 states! Enough is enough.
posted by Sybil Stockwell Oop at 12:21 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, those of us in the Northeast really are starved for bird color. I think that's why we are suckers for birds like a goldfinch or a cardinal... at least they look like something other than a blur of brown motion.

That said I'm sticking with the loon. Big crazy birds that live in lakes AND the sea, plus they make an unbelievable amount of noise. They look cool hunting too. *sigh* Man I love loons.
posted by selfnoise at 12:21 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hahaha, Rhode Island you so crazy.

As with all things officially RI, there was a big brouhaha up on Smith Hill to vote in the State Bird back in 1954. Much like the controversy over Dell's Lemonade vs. Coffee Milk as the Official State Drink, the issue was that there were equally good choices up for selection - the handsome and distinctive Rhode Island Red chicken, the majestic and inspiring Osprey and the strikingly beautiful Ruby Throated Hummingbird, of which there are a few in my back yard as I type this.

Any three of these birds would have caused the author to narrow his eyes and nod in approval... but he clearly approved of our daring. So crazy, indeed: Crazy like the fox... for chickens. You see what I did there? I thought it was clever.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:21 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Maine state bird should really be the loon.

I always think of loons as being such a New Hampshire bird, from hearing them in the Lakes region. This is a pretty good way to do a passable loon impression. I've never fooled a loon with one, but I HAVE annoyed the hell out of people.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:22 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


If he wants the Nevada state bird to be the Himalayan Snowcock (which, admittedly, is a cool story), then he doesn't get to give South Dakota grief later on for choosing an introduced species.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2013


Also I like the cedar waxwing. birds birds birds
posted by selfnoise at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


also how do these birds rank on a scale from most delicious to least delicious

asking for a friend
posted by elizardbits at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


Birds all taste the same on the Gollum scale: "Crunchable".
posted by selfnoise at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2013


My mom does a great loon impression - great in that it sounds nothing like an actual loon, and that she's willing to do it anytime we ask.
It's basically her hollering "Hoo-de-hoooooo!" That's Minnesota.
posted by Coffeemate at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


What is it with mockingbirds? I do not understand. They are garbage birds that eat dumpster trash! Is that what you want to identify with, Tennessee?

The author has clearly never been to Tennessee.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mockingbirds are the most energetic, entertaining and talented bird I know of. And beautiful, graceful flyers to boot. Back when the Houston Colt 45's decided to change their name due to copyright problems my entry in the renaming contest was The Mockingbirds. I could envision "Mox beat the Sox in 12" headlines but instead got the effing DisAstros...
posted by jim in austin at 12:27 PM on May 20, 2013


True story. When I was in college I was doing some field work in the Mojave desert with a group of fellow students. One of us had a cassette tape with loon calls on it (don't ask). So one day we came across a biological field station operated by a California school. We introduced ourselves and had a nice conversation about scorpions. Later that night, after sunset, we went back, hid behind some rocks, and played the loon calls. It was hard not to laugh as the residents of the field station came out under the stars to listen intently to the calls of the "Mojave" loon. To this day I wonder if there is some peer reviewed paper out there that is totally wrong.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:27 PM on May 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I never thought much about all this — I live among the trees where black-capped chickadees fly around the yard all the time, so Maine's state bird seemed apt — but I cannot believe that Florida, with all the cool birds down there, picked the northern mockingbird. I even saw a caracara once, sitting on a post, while driving across the state.

on preview: Minnesota is welcome to the loon, but yeah, let's get the human loons out of Maine, especially the gov.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:28 PM on May 20, 2013


elizardbits: "Why do so many states have the northern cardinal though? Is this shameful propaganda from Big Cardinal?"

I think because they're bright, easy-to-spot, around all winter long, and generally found in pairs (people get excited when they can identify a boy cardinal AND a girl cardinal). They're really nice, cheerful birds, and sometimes the only spot of color in the winter.

Also for a lot of these "state symbol" things, they have the schoolchildren of the state vote on them. We voted in a statewide poll for the "state fish" when I was in fifth grade or so (bluegill won), and they voted for the state fossil a few years back (tully monster). So things that children can identify and/or pronounce have a tendency to win over things that actually symbolize the state.

I'm okay with the prairie grouse as suggested for Illinois, but I'd rather have a American Kestrel (a falcon) -- they're bright and colorful, pretty easy to spot and common across the state, and also BAD ASS. But I guess they're pretty common across most of the lower 48 so everyone would copy us and it'd be like cardinals all over again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2013


Louisiana got it right! I have to cherish this because there are only so many times that I can write that.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


At least the Rhode Island Red has something to do specifically with the state. Unlike all of the other loser states. On the other hand, they were considering making calamari the "state appetizer," so that ruins any "random state stuff" cred Rhode Island might have had.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:32 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Your favorite bird sucks"
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:34 PM on May 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Has anyone used Hermit Thrush as a band name?
posted by hellojed at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2013


YES, Oregon should have an owl. It's practically cliche. Owls are cool.

I should see what I can do about getting a measure on the ballot to change it.
posted by curious nu at 12:36 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Mockingbirds are awesome."

Goddamn right they are.


We have a mockingbird that sits on the corner of the garage and runs through his entire repertoire a few times a day. He seems to prefer to pretend to be a mourning dove, but the best part is when the dogs go outside and bark at him.

He barks back.
posted by MissySedai at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


He got Florida absolutely right.

"Yeah, Florida's state bird should totally be a bird that's not native to Florida. So meta!"

Sarcasm noted, and still, this does not diminish how absolutely perfect the Flamingo is for Florida. (And yet, Wikipedia notes that "Most sightings in southern Florida are usually considered to be escapees, although at least one bird banded as a chick in the Yucatán Peninsula has been sighted in Everglades National Park, and others may be wanderers from Cuba.")
posted by oddman at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2013


I forgot to mention that MetaFilter's official bird (favorited over 34,500 times so far) should be the rtha.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


GenjiandProust: At least the Rhode Island Red has something to do specifically with the state. Unlike all of the other loser states. On the other hand, they were considering making calamari the "state appetizer," so that ruins any "random state stuff" cred Rhode Island might have had.

Doesn't Massachusetts have both an official state desert (Boston Cream Pie) and an official cookie (Toll House)? That seems like a stretch to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2013


?... ... ...coffee milk
posted by Flashman at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


McGee - what you understand that when a cardinal is sitting on a fence, what he's whistling is not, "Good cheer! Good cheer!" but "Fuck you! FUCK you! I'll fucking cut you!" I watched a pair of them dive bombing our 13 lb male cat - that's some serious utahraptor wannabe behavior there.

That said, I understand his desire to expurgate the cardinal from the roster due to over representation, but why did he saddle Illinois with a bird that's not found in Illinois? Why not just give them the tufted puffin?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:39 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gotta say I agree with California. The condors are fucking badass.

I was surprised to find out it wasn't the California condor. I guess the citizens are just too laid back to want to be associated with such badass bird?
posted by fuse theorem at 12:40 PM on May 20, 2013


why did he saddle Illinois with a bird that's not found in Illinois?


link
posted by goethean at 12:41 PM on May 20, 2013


I'm telling you, if Iowa followed this joker's advice and picked the dickcissel, all of the other states would make fun of Iowa at recess. Iowa's state ird should probably have something to do with pie.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone used Hermit Thrush as a band name?
There was in the 90s a pretty great band out of Nova Scotia (members of which are still active in the music scene) called Thrush Hermit.
posted by Flashman at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Needs moar tits.
posted by chavenet at 12:45 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that the Western Meadowlark is boring, but it'll be pretty hard to get the Oregon state bird changed to the spotted owl.
posted by vespabelle at 12:45 PM on May 20, 2013


We need something to argue about after flouride, though. I feel like the timber versus owls thing is due for a reboot.
posted by curious nu at 12:46 PM on May 20, 2013


I once heard a mockingbird imitating a car alarm. It was the most badass thing ever.

There was one near me in Austin who'd do that.

And back at home, when I was a teenager, the mockingbird who owned our yard imitated a) the next-door neighbor whistling for his dog, and b) our cockatiels, whose cages we would set outside on nice days.** It would also dive bomb the cats, and it alerted us to each and every snake that wandered through.

Mockingbirds are full of awesome.

**Until a red tailed hawk caught on, landed on my cockatiel's cage, and wrung its neck through the bars. Red tail hawks are full of murder.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:47 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I once heard a mockingbird imitating a car alarm. It was the most badass thing ever.

Mockingbirds are flat out malicious... I used to live near a school for the blind, and all of the crossing signs had very specific tones for walk, don't walk, etc. The mockingbirds learned how to imitate the signs perfectly. They went through a couple of variations, and each time, the birds would learn it in a series of weeks.

I never heard of it causing an incident, but it proves what I've known all along - Birds are generally assholes.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:48 PM on May 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


The first time my mom (a good Brooklyn girl) met my great grandfather (a Missouri farmer who built hunting blinds at the edge of the cornfield, right on the boundary with the neighboring wildlife refuge so you could pick off the deer as soon as they step out of bounds), she had spent the day watching birds in said wildlife refuge and was going through a bird book to check off the birds she had seen.

"Oh, that one's good eatin'," said my Great Grandpa, looking over her shoulder. "But you need two or three of 'em for a good pie."
posted by ChuraChura at 12:49 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, they were considering making calamari the "state appetizer," so that ruins any "random state stuff" cred Rhode Island might have had.

The fleet at Point Judith is the largest squidding fleet on the East Coast, producing around 7 million pounds of catch a year, almost all of it for human consumption rather than bait or fishmeal. Plus, have you had calamari up in Boston? They put tartar sauce on it, and no banana pepper rings.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:50 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


No way are birds assholes. During mating season the male cardinal will sometimes feed the female, and for my money there's nothing cuter in the entire animal kingdom.
posted by scratch at 12:50 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to find out it wasn't the California condor. I guess the citizens are just too laid back to want to be associated with such badass bird?

The critical point that the condor is a vulture and carrion-eaters are viewed dimly. I know, right, the bald eagle is also in this category but having feathers on one's head goes a long way.

Also, quail are delicious, not entirely bright and rather comical, all things one would want from a symbolic bird.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2013


Great, so if you live in our nation's capital, you don't even get a mention in this article about your dang wood thrush.

Where is the outrage that DC's Official Territory-or-Whatever Bird isn't a FREAKIN' BALD EAGLE?!?
posted by argonauta at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


What? Bald eagles aren't carrion birds, they're hunters.
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Growing up, I thought the NJ state bird should have been the one you make with your own hand.
posted by Renoroc at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2013


Cardinals are very pretty, I can't work up much animosity for them BUT all of this misses the point that if birds are dinosaurs, dinosaurs are birds. Deinonychus should clearly be the state bird of Montana or Wyoming, and I guess S. Dakota could get T-Rex since they dug up Sue there. MORE DINOSAURS FOR STATE BIRD!
posted by Wretch729 at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


While we may squabble over which state birds make sense, can we at least agree that this is an appropriate use of chicks for click bait?
posted by wensink at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bald Eagles are more scavenger than hunter.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have already ranted about the Mississippi state bird in another forum. This author is spot on -- Mississippi Kites are awesome and special. The only reason for a Northern anything bird has got to be carpetbaggers or Reconstruction or something. MIKI forever!

And yes, there should be more hawks as state birds. I think it's telling that CA has the condor on our state quarter. Idaho has a peregrine on its quarter. There were lots of raptors on state quarters.

Bald eagles totally eat carrion. They are lazy. If it's already dead, it's easier to eat. Saves them the trouble of hunting. Didn't you see the FPP with the pickup truck full of dead fish?
posted by gingerbeer at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the backstory for Utah's bird. There should be more of that all around.

I'm a huge proponent of anything that makes you stop and say "Fuck yeah, nature! You're awesome."
posted by C'est la D.C. at 1:11 PM on May 20, 2013


18. Louisiana. Official state bird: brown pelican
Yes. The best fit of all. If I had beads I’d throw them to you, Louisiana.


Fuckin' A right. I was worried I'd have to have words with this guy.
posted by brundlefly at 1:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: "Iowa's state ird should probably have something to do with pie."

Or a casserole.
posted by boo_radley at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Three robins but no blue jay?

Fuck you, Blue Jays.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:16 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd say Virginia should be the Virginia Rail, except it doesn't actually live much in Virginia.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:16 PM on May 20, 2013


20. Maryland. Official state bird: Baltimore oriole

YOU WIN.
What it should be: Baltimore oriole


damn straight.
posted by ShawnString at 1:17 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I spent two summers doing biology field work on a prairie NW Iowa and the Dicksissels were literally making me go insane. All day long, "DICK DICK DICK SISSELL SISSELL SISSELL". I'd hear them in my dreams. True story.

If they made that bird the state bird I think I'd have to destroy Iowa. And my parents and sister still live there.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:17 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Birds on state quarters.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:20 PM on May 20, 2013


I applaud this effort, but the list needs more American Dipper, American Avocet, Marbled Murrelet, and Harlequin Duck. The red-faced warbler for Arizona is lame, too. So many great birds to choose from in that state, but I'd go Elf Owl over Elegant Trogon in a close race, and only because New Mexico already took the Greater Roadrunner, the world's finest ground-dwelling cuckoo.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:22 PM on May 20, 2013


And, because it turns out I have many opinions about birds: I'm down with the California Condor for sure, but California Quail are also really cute and they travel in family groups and they say "Chi-ca-go! Chi-ca-go!" all day long. So, okay, maybe not very symbolic of California. Hmmm.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:23 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


He got Florida absolutely right.

Couldn't disagree more. Florida is a big state, and the part where you're even likely to see a (non-native) flamingo is a minority of it. If you're wanting to represent the tropical part of the state, at least pick a colorful native bird, like a roseate spoonbill or something, but really, apart from the mockingbird (whose praises others have already sung), I think the native wading birds like the wood stork or one of the herons or something would be way more representative of the state overall.
posted by saladin at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


State birds are more for fifth graders doing scrap book projects than anybody else. For this, the cardinal is an excellent example. It is the most obvious common bird were the male has gorgeous sex color and the female is blah WTF. Fifth grade is the perfect time to hammer this lesson into the homo sapien brain. Also they have a great song.

It is no surprise that a bunch of states choose it. If I was choosing the state bird where I live I would choose the cardinal. What the fifth graders really need though is a list of state insects with some thought put into it. The preponderace of monarch butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs on this list is very disappointing.
posted by bukvich at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know, right, the bald eagle is also in this category but having feathers on one's head goes a long way.

To be clear, the Bald Eagle has the head feathers, and the Condor is bald.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2013


I seriously thought Pennsylvania's state bird was a flying cheesesteak. I need to get out of Philly more often.
posted by orme at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2013


This site has pretty good write-ups of the history of state birds. Here's the bit on Florida, from 1927:
"WHEREAS, The Legislature of the State of Florida has thrown the arm of its protecting care around the Mocking Bird by the enactment of suitable legislation and,

WHEREAS, The melody of its music has delighted the heart of residents and visitors to Florida from the days of the rugged pioneer to the present comer, and

WHEREAS, This bird of matchless charm is found throughout our State, therefore

Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. That the Mocking Bird be and it is hereby designated as the State Bird of the State of Florida."
posted by smackfu at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh jeez, or obviously the osprey! That makes the most sense, I change my nomination.
posted by saladin at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I have already ranted about the Mississippi state bird in another forum.
posted by emjaybee at 1:26 PM on May 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am happy to see all the mockingbird love. We have one just outside the front door. He or she chases the swifts (I think they are swifts, possibly starlings, I don't know, fast little birds) away from his tree and also likes to say hello when my son and I wait for the bus.
posted by emjaybee at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2013


If mockingbirds imitate everything, how do you know when you're hearing one in your yard?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:30 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, the lady at the coffee shop today noticed the Rhode Island Red pin on my ID lanyard and said that people used to wear them decades ago, and they called themselves Rooster Boosters. Sweet!)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:30 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


my state of Vermont has it right with the hermit thrush (which sings in my woods every evening)

Ah, the Hermit Thrush at Eve.

For connoisseurs, there is also Hermit Thrush at Morn.
posted by flug at 1:31 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm totally gonna breed brontornis back into existence and keep releasing them into the wild until at least one state makes it the state bird.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:37 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like the better choice for Massachusetts would be the wild turkey (the bird, not the beverage). They grace our cities with their ineffable serenity as they sit in the middle of the road and scare the SUV drivers. Chickadees can't do that.

Also, this is even funnier if you can imagine it being read by Ben Wyatt (or possibly Tom Haverford).
posted by pie ninja at 1:38 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I once saw a mockingbird beating up a cat. And I took a video of it.
posted by mattbucher at 1:40 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to agree that the condor would be cooler for California (super rare, spectacular, and named after us, there's no bad there), but I retain a fondness for the cardinal for Virginia, my native state. It looks so cute sitting in the state flower, as someone who grew up with flowering dogwood in the yard and cardinals that occasionally posed for beauty shots there.
posted by tavella at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2013


Gotta say I agree with California. The condors are fucking badass.

I thought going into the article that that's what should have been picked.
WE ARE HUGE AND WE FEAST ON YOUR DEAD
posted by LionIndex at 1:42 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do so many states have the northern cardinal though? Is this shameful propaganda from Big Cardinal?

It's one of the few birds that almost everyone can identify on a feeder or in the woods, they mate for life and don't have any of those bad bird habits that make people concerned about other birds.

I rarely laugh at the internet anymore and this was cracking me up. I read it in Randall's Honey Badger voice. Thanks for that link smackfu, of course the hermit thrush was contentious for VT in the 40s when they voted it in
Among other things, it was not considered a true Vermonter because, unlike the blue jay or crow (which were favored by some legislators), the Hermit Thrush leaves Vermont during the winter in its southward migration. The record is not clear, but this bird was selected to represent Vermont, among other things, because it has a distinctive sweet call, and because it is found in all of Vermont's 14 counties.
I think CA can't have the condor because something really bad happens if your state's bird goes extinct on your watch, as much as it's clearly the best answer there.

According to this only South Carolina has a former state bird....
posted by jessamyn at 1:44 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, if you get to suggest an exotic for Nevada, you don't get to complain about the ring-necked pheasant in South Dakota. Plus, your suggestion for a replacement is the sharp-tailed grouse? The greater prairie chicken is a better fit but you gave it to a state that it barely even lives in year round!

I guess I got opinions about birds.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:45 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


metafilter is all about discovering the Extremely Strong Opinions we never knew we even had

and then beating one another to death with them
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


If mockingbirds imitate everything, how do you know when you're hearing one in your yard?

If, from the same bush or tree, in the space of a few minutes, you hear: robin, starling, [random warbler], starling again, car alarm, annoying wind chimes from neighbor's porch.....that's your mockingbird!
posted by rtha at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


If mockingbirds imitate everything, how do you know when you're hearing one in your yard?

They repeat their repertoire in sets of threes, a different sound each time.

on preview, what rtha said. :-)
posted by Stewriffic at 1:50 PM on May 20, 2013


And if you interrupt a mockingbird before it gets to three, it is honor-bound to kill you.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think CA can't have the condor because something really bad happens if your state's bird goes extinct on your watch, as much as it's clearly the best answer there.

We're working on it! The low ebb was apparently 22 individuals, but there's now ten times that living in the wild, with a bit less than that in captive breeding programs. With a bird like that, the population is always going to be fairly small compared to species that can live in urban areas like cardinals, robins, or mockingbirds.
posted by LionIndex at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I guess it can actually be repeated 2-6 times, but I typically hear 3.)
posted by Stewriffic at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2013


I'm pretty sure the author is trolling Washington state. Humans (with the notable exception of tourists) look at gulls as competitors for our french fries. We mostly consider them pests.

I would nominate, instead, Brandt's Cormorant. Who doesn't love a diving bird?
posted by weeyin at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2013


they mate for life

That's interesting, given how different the males & females are in appearance. The general rule as I understand it with birds is that sexual dimorphism correlates to sexual competition each mating season.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2013


He wants the Bobolink for Indiana? Seriously.
Lemme tell you something...Take a late fall trip up to Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge and tell me that the Sandhill Crane shouldn't be the state bird.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:58 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The willow ptarmigan is a lovely bird and is found throughout Alaska. That's quite a feat when you consider the diversity of the biomes found here. The gyrfalcon is a Canadian bird, mostly, and would be a pretty shitty choice to represent us. The ptarmigan may not be a killing machine but it's winter plumage is beautiful. I always thought the raven would be a good state bird since it's featured in Native Alaskan tradition so often.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:10 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nebraska even used to have Sandhill Cranes on their license plate.
posted by steamynachos at 2:11 PM on May 20, 2013


This guy, and every state, and all of youse, got it wrong.

It's gotta be The American Crow. Everywhere.
posted by tommyD at 2:16 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pleased that the official bird of me, the grey catbird, belongs to no state or territory, because I was personally adopted by representatives of the line, and I think they still look out for me, no matter what logic or reason has to say.

While I was the janitorial majordomo at the American Visionary Art Museum, I carefully undid the ruination of a thousand insufferable wedding planners, who artlessly infested the garden around the log meditation chapel with mums and the other photo-friendly botanical nasties beloved of a certain set. I worked the garden with love and care, extracting the unnatural violators and substituting native plants, all the while letting certain weeds live if they'd reward me with blossoms and colors.

The garden is bounded on three sides by high brick walls, and the walls are encrusted with trumpet vines that the catbirds love—wild green canyon outcrops of tangled, woody tentacles merging into wrist-thick rivers of fibrous vegetation plunging into the soil. For a time, the catbirds were content to observe and comment, and I was indifferent to them as I'd been to birds all along.

Overnight, once, while a group of Outward Bound campers were holed up in the museum's Love Barn, a noisy gang of kids climbed the wall, using the biggest knot of trumpet vine as a ladder that tore away from the wall and collapsed in a heap, and proceeded to storm through my garden like Godzilla redecorating Tokyo. The next morning, I arrived to talk to the campers, who'd been careful not to open the doors while the carnage was underway, and opened the huge doors into the garden myself to reveal the wreckage.

I don't understand some people, and the need for damage.

It is so much better to make things, but that's just me.

The catbirds were loud and insistent, circling and landing, singing the chittery, scratchy, electronic songs that Morton Subotnick would have killed to replicate, and they hopped around me as I approached the corner where the mass of the trumpet vine was laid out on the ground like a displaced circulatory system. Under it all, near what had been the flowering crown of the plant, a pair of nests were upside-down and trampled, with fuzzy babies cold and dead underneath.

Do something! Do something! Do something!

The catbirds were in hysterics, assembled in ranks on the edges of the meditation chapel, clicking and whirring and burbling and sounding their alarm call, but they were not warning against me—they were talking to me.

"I'm sorry, birds," I said, and paused because the lump in my throat was choking me. "I'm sorry that humans are fucking assholes, sometimes. We really just—"

Do something! Something's wrong! Everything's different now! Where is our vine?

I dug a hole in the corner of the garden and buried the nests and their trampled occupants. The catbirds stayed right with me, always noisy, getting closer and closer as they watched me work. I brought out my ryoba saw and knelt to cut off the vine at the root, but paused. The birds stopped their chatter, which was unusual for the noisy little devils. I sat and looked over the splayed out vines and the wall, where all the old points of attachment were torn away, and had another idea.

I took some of the gnarled branches I'd accumulated for the task of maintaining the ever-decomposing log chapel and built a sort of tetrahedron, using the saw to hand-cut pieces according the what the grain and the shape of each branch told me, then extended it into a sort of wire-frame construction like a tree fungus. With an impact drill and a few well-placed masonry screws, I mounted the piece on the wall, carved a few extensions and added them to the structure, and spent several days lifting the heavy mass of the old trumpet vine back into place.

What are you doing there? What are you doing there? This thing is neat! This thing is neat!

The catbirds abandoned the safety of distance and started standing around on the growing structure, where the branch frame and vines were coming together. I'd carefully weave vines into the openwork, tie loose ends up with a bit of hairy brown twine, and catbirds would land on my shoulders and perch where I was threading vine through openings, bipping and buzzing and commenting on every action.

We love this thing! We love this thing! Look—we can stand here!

I started spending way too much time in the garden, and would smile as I came in, because the catbirds would fly out of the restored tangle of vine and watch me from the top of the meditation chapel, talking to me. I didn't know what they said, of course, but I'm prone to poetic excess, so I interpreted the floral cantatas of song as a validation.

Hey Joe! Hey Joe! Hey Joe! Where you going with that trowel in your hand?

I'd dig in the center of the garden, working on my new plantings, and as I dug out grubs here and there, I'd hold each one between my thumb and forefinger in a sort of sloppy version of the vitarka mudra, and every time, a catbird would fly down, land delicately on my forefinger, take the grub, and fly back into the vines. Pareidolia leads us to find all sorts of patterns in natural phenomena, and my conceit to such knowledge is a nagging belief that catbirds everywhere know who I am. I don't believe in god, a distinct and immortal soul, or an afterlife, but on some level, I believe that catbirds are looking out for me. Silly, I know.

"Joe, I saw what you were doing in the garden," said the museum's founder, a woman with a wild and often loose connection to the purely empirical. "Can you call the birds?"

"No. Catbirds don't take kindly to orders, and aren't much interested in requests."

"Still."

"I did them a favor and they remember."

A year or so later, when it was time for me to move along, I cleaned out my workshop in the Love Barn, boxed up my items from my office in the basement of the museum, said my goodbyes, inasmuch as they were goodbyes instead of see-you-around, to the people I'd worked with, and I kept my composure through all of it to the very last. I stayed after the museum closed on my last day, working in the garden even though I knew that what I'd done there would fade and change under someone else's oversight, and when I'd planted a rank of lovely rudbeckia so I could leave a wake of gold in my passing, I stood up, dusted myself off, and pinched forefinger and thumb together, just to check.

A catbird fluttered in and landed there. She looked for a grub, paused in what might have been the avian version of a shrug, and clicked and buzzed and burbled.

What's new, Joe?

I'd held it back through a day of hugs and promises to stay in touch that I've mostly honored since, but a single plain grey bird with a black cap like a little beret looking me in the eye made me choke, and I couldn't help but let loose a few tears.

"I'm going away, bird," I said, "and I hope you'll be okay, but be careful out there."

Bip bip whirr.

The catbird flew off, disappearing into the green safety of the vines, and I left the garden with a bit of indignity, climbing out over the tall sculptural gate that I'd had security lock with me inside because I'd turned in all my keys.

Catbirds may always be too small and too insignificant and too boringly grey, particularly in comparison to their larger and more boisterous cousins, the mockingbirds, but that's okay, because while they're unlikely to be printed on Welcome To Our State signs to add another boring fact about another boring state, I spend my days harboring the ridiculous belief that they remember me and that life can never get so bad that I can't just call on them to come fluttering out of the greenery in flocks the color of an overcast sky, to take hold of me with a couple hundred tiny claws, and lift me up when I can't do it myself.

Bzz bip bip click whirrrr, they say, standing in the branches of the cherry tree by the porch as I'm heading for the train to work, and I grin up at them.

Catbirds are the official bird of the state of contentment, at least for me.

"Bzz bip bip click whirrr to you, too, bird."
posted by sonascope at 2:23 PM on May 20, 2013 [83 favorites]


25. Missouri. Official state bird: eastern bluebird
Boring, but I don’t know what else would be better.

This?
posted by lathrop at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to disagree on Montana. He only gave them a new bird because he'd already let Kansas have the meadowlark. I grew up to the sounds of those meadowlarks, and I love them. I have no idea what a McCown's longspur sounds like, so give the meadowlark to Montana and let Kansas have something else, the Cooper's Hawk, maybe.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:37 PM on May 20, 2013


This writer has an unhealthy and questionable opinion of mockingbirds, which makes me wonder if he suffered a traumatic mockingbird event in his childhood. I have never once seen a mockingbird feast from a trashcan, which seems to be his favorite put down on the bird.

They are amazing birds, be it their ability to mimic calls, to their fierce protection of their nests and fledglings, and pretty awesome hunting dance they will perform in the grass, where they extend their wings and tilt them toward the ground. Many of these birds he dismisses, I adore and labored to take just mediocre photographs of: While I agree that it would be great to see more diversity in the state birds list, the birds that are recognized are recognized not because of the Cardinal lobby or the Mockingbird Mafia, but because even in their everyday common presence, they are incredible birds which make the world better for their presence. For shame, I say, for shame!
posted by Atreides at 2:41 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


the NY bird should be those goodfella pigeons from animaniacs
posted by elizardbits at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes I have some birds I think should be the bird of SOMETHING

- Cedar waxwings have the loveliest smoothest color of any bird in the US though flickers are close, and similar
- I have a red breasted grosbeak that hangs out near my place and seems to be pining for something. Sings a lovely song.
- Nuthatches hang out upside down all the time and make a funny honking sound
- Sapsuckers have a funny name and are cool looking birds, you can hear them from a long ways away, going after sap in a tree. They make patterns in trees that i am sure we will find out are secret messages.
- Coots!
posted by jessamyn at 2:55 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know grackles are like the boringest birds and are everywhere just hangin' out with sparrows and the like but they are seriously some cool-ass birds. They rub ants on their feathers for the chemicals. How do they do it? By being awesome.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:59 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Maine state bird should really be the loon.

And if the Maine state bird is the loon, that means we can make the Minnesota state bird the mosquito.

Deal.
posted by eriko at 2:09 PM on May 20 [2 favorites +][!]


No deal. That "mosquito is the state bird" stuff should be limited to t-shirts sold to tourists.

The loon must remain Minnesotan. You'll have to pry my loons from my cold dead hands. (Why am I fondling loons in this scenario? I'm not sure. Is loon fan fiction a thing? I mean, I'm certainly a fan of the common loon and it is quite a looker with that elegant neck.)

I always think of loons as being such a New Hampshire bird, from hearing them in the Lakes region. This is a pretty good way to do a passable loon impression. I've never fooled a loon with one, but I HAVE annoyed the hell out of people.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:22 PM on May 20 [1 favorite +][!]

Lakes? New Hampshire has less than a thousand lakes. Even if New Hampshire had ten times as many lakes, it still wouldn't deserve the common loon. (I would have taken Vermont. My grandma from the Vermont side of my family does a great loon impression. She would use it to call the kids to dinner. Also, Lake Champlain is pretty great.)
posted by Area Man at 3:02 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


California Quail are also really cute and they travel in family groups

I love my state's bird because they have commas on the top of their heads and when you see a covey of them dashing across the road, they look like punctuation in search of a run-on sentence.
posted by jamaro at 3:03 PM on May 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


When I see California quail they are not so much dashing as wandering down the middle of the road and they make me yell "Pick a side! Get out of the way! Do not make me kill you in your cuteness!"

I think the acorn woodpecker should be somebody's state bird, because they look and sound awesome, and they make granaries in dead trees.
posted by rtha at 3:08 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to this only South Carolina has a former state bird...

And that wikipedia page links to this page which is maddeningly short on details. Nevertheless, I told this story to my wife, and since she and I both are ex-pats of that fair state, we merely sighed, and said in unison, "Yeah, that sounds about right."
posted by 1f2frfbf at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mockingbirds are great until they're sitting outside your window at 3AM running though in a loop 8 different songs they've picked up. They sing at night all the time.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:26 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the acorn woodpecker should be somebody's state bird

I think they are the official bird of mathowie.
posted by jessamyn at 3:30 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure the author is trolling Washington state. Humans (with the notable exception of tourists) look at gulls as competitors for our french fries. We mostly consider them pests.

I would nominate, instead, Brandt's Cormorant. Who doesn't love a diving bird?


Yes - gulls have their place (usually at the dump or parking lot garbage bins), but are too ubiquitous to be worth honoring.

I do love Cormorants, although it's Double-crested Cormorant or GTFO.

However, I prefer either the Great Blue Herons (but they eat my Shebunkin, so funk 'em), House Finches (not as flashy as Gold finches, but sweet of song and nesting, as it were, at my house), Northern Flickers (very entertaining calls), or best of all, the Spotted Towhees. Spotted Towhees are, I think, one of the most fun birds to hang out with. The Anna's Hummingbirds are fun, too, but maybe a bit too flashy and obvious. Yeah. Vote Spotted Towhees for Washington.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:38 PM on May 20, 2013


Here in New Zealand we don't have state birds, but we do have the annual Bird of the Year contest.
posted by jzed at 3:39 PM on May 20, 2013


Hm, it occurs to me that the reason I always see dashing quail (as opposed to sauntering quail) might be because I only ever see quail while out walking my dog, in which case the quail are spelling out, "Hurry, hurry, hurry, there's a big, hungry-looking bird dog back there, he looks like he will grab us and eat us, hurry, scurry, run away."
posted by jamaro at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2013


There's a sad lack of herons on the list. There's hardly anything as awkward-elegant as a heron picking its way through shallow water. More herons, dammit!
posted by tavella at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


After doing a little digging, I vote the Florida state bird should be the osprey.
posted by grubi at 3:46 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


this would be our national burd and flag if the librals had their way
posted by not_on_display at 3:46 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I see saladin agreed with me -- before I suggested it!
posted by grubi at 3:50 PM on May 20, 2013


North Carolina: Eastern Cardinal. of course. It should be the Carolina Parakeet. I don't care if it is extiinct, we should rub everybody's nose in it: Look at this beayoooootiful bird, too bad you'll killed it to death.

Failing the parakeet, I would like the Tufted titmouse as our State Bird. Yeah I know it is everywhere, but I love it because it always looks like it has bed head.

It doesn't surprise me that NC went for the very common Cardinal-- there was a kerfufle that never got resolved over the State Amphibian. Back in 2007, the general assembly decided to choose a state amphibian. We have lots of amphibians that are only found in NC and the NC Herpatological Society gave them a list of species unique to NC including the Neuse river waterdog. Unfortunately a bunch of 4th graders suggested the bullfrog. The GA decided it was all too controversial and so went with "none."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:01 PM on May 20, 2013


Yes I have some birds I think should be the bird of SOMETHING - Coots!

Coots are the official bird of old people.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2013


Coots have really cool feet.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:06 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


My mockingbird mimics our local osprey call. It took me one year to realize the call was coming from the mockingbird sitting on thee nearby power line. Badass indeed.

The bluebird boxes have housed one Carolina chicadee family (they'd produced four eggs before I got around to checking that box and I didn't have the heart to dislodge them), and two bluebird families this year. Life's good.
posted by mightshould at 4:10 PM on May 20, 2013


mudpuppie: "Until a red tailed hawk caught on, landed on my cockatiel's cage, and wrung its neck through the bars. Red tail hawks are full of murder."

An obvious mercy killing from the hawk's point of view.
posted by Mitheral at 4:23 PM on May 20, 2013


And speaking of those dunderheads in the NC GA, most states limit themselves to 1 official state fruit, some have none (I'm looking at you New Mexico.) NC has 3:

The official state fruit, the scuppermong grape
The official state red berry, the strawberry
The official state blue berry (guess.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


An obvious mercy killing from the hawk's point of view.

Fair enough.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:25 PM on May 20, 2013


We had a starling a few years ago that did an excellent redtail cry. Fooled me a couple of times.
posted by rtha at 4:29 PM on May 20, 2013


The Loon is a great state bird for Minnesota. As a kid, I was always pretty proud that our state muffin is the blueberry muffin.

Another official state food:

North Carolina
State blue berry: blueberry

posted by triggerfinger at 4:33 PM on May 20, 2013


Starlings are rats with wings. But good mimics, sometimes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:35 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Robins may be too boring for this guy, but they're the only birds that have ever stood in the middle of the street, puffed up and stared down my car without moving. They don't move until they think they've made their point, I've sat for a good five minutes waiting on empty residential streets before.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:36 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a Baltimore native, I was always a little let down that the Oriole was the state bird. On account of the fact that this reminded me of the baseball team. Then I learned it was adopted as the state bird - and in fact, got its name - on account of the fact that its distinct yellow-and-black colors matched the colors of the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore, the coat of arms that would become Maryland's state flag, which is indisputably the best state flag in the country. So that put my mind at ease about Orioles from that point on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:36 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Baby coots are awesome! Look at this baby coot, he's a lightsaber away from being a fuzzy Darth Maul.
posted by jamaro at 4:39 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is awesome, and I approve. Didn't realize that my homestate was one of too many with meadowlark.Sandhill crane is much more appropiate.
posted by asfuller at 4:41 PM on May 20, 2013


Robins freak me the hell out. I'm convinced they're carefully crafted government drones. The robin pretends to look at the ground, tilting its head from side to side. The robin then takes two hops forward and films your doings with its bionic eye-cam, transmitting you every move back to HQ. The robin takes another hop forward, looks at you cockeyed, and performs the equivalent of a Secret Service officer talking into his sleeve.

Seriously. Watch out for those robins. They're up to no good and they're watching you.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:41 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure the California condor is way cool, but California Quail are a near perfect representation of California. Quirky, quick, they can fly, but they often don't bother. They like to run around like... chickens with their heads cut off. (maybe not the best comparison given the thread, but still.)

You cannot witness a California Quail and not smile.
posted by cccorlew at 4:44 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously. Watch out for those robins. They're up to no good and they're watching you.

No they aren't. Pay no attention. Nothing to see here. The robins are not recording you. I repeat, my robins are not recording you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:48 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Starlings are rats with wings.

Ask anyone who's ever worked on a boat, and they will tell you that the answer is "seagulls". The filthiest, noisiest birds ever conceived. They will eat just about anything, steal food from just about anything or anyone, and every single one of them seems to suffer from some spastic colon disorder. I have watched drunks in downtown Reykjavík vomit onto the sidewalk, only to see a seagull swoop down and start lapping that shit up. They are hideous creatures that make starlings look like peacocks or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:54 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I see California quail they are not so much dashing as wandering down the middle of the road

Yeah, when I lived out in the countryside it was pretty much impossible not to hit them; the slower you'd drive the more they would inexplicably flock around the wheels. STUPID QUAILS STOP THAT. Eventually we had to have one person walking in front of the car shooing them away while the other drove really slowly. Even then we ended up knocking far too many down. If they didn't get back up we'd just bring them to the rural butcher and have them for dinner.

ciiiiircle of liiiiiiiife
posted by elizardbits at 5:08 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


The neighborhood quail have a standing bet with the bunnies who live next to my driveway to see who can throw themselves in front of my car the fastest every morning and evening. Well, I suppose it's more of a lurching, leaping bet, but you get the idea. Haven't got to had to eat any of them yet, but it's almost inevitable.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:14 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I did the ubiquitous 5th-grade project where you pick a state and learn lots about it, we had to fill out a photocopied booklet of pages to make sure we hit all the important bits. Draw the state outline and mark the capitol, list some things the state is known for, when did it join the union, etc. The state bird page came with a line drawing of a birdbath, and we were supposed to draw the state bird at the birdbath. My perfectionist, 10-year-old brain nearly exploded as I tried to decide whether to draw a chicken nestled in the appointed location in the birdbath, or in the less-ridiculous-but-barely-on-the-page location on the ground next to the birdbath. Stupid Rhode Island.
posted by vytae at 7:48 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


F yeah Vermont. The Hermit Thrush sounds like an arpeggiator casting a magic spell.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:22 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


You cannot witness a California Quail and not smile.

Seriously. Or giggle uncontrollably, usually. I'd make them (and snowy plovers, I like them too for their hopping adorableness) the Official Bird of Everything if it were up to me.
posted by gerstle at 10:26 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


hoppy little brown birds forever
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:33 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pelicans dive bombing for fish. When you see a pelican in flight, there is no doubt they are part dinosaur! The BP oil spill really made a mess... oily pelicans
posted by JujuB at 12:14 AM on May 21, 2013


They are hideous creatures that make starlings look like peacocks or something.

Peacocks!? Have you ever lived near peacocks? You don't want to.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:09 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I haven't lived near peacocks. I take it by your reaction that they are not the noble, beautiful creatures I've been led to believe they are.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:39 AM on May 21, 2013


As a New Hampshire-ite, I vote for dumping the Purple Finch, and stealing the Common Loon from Minnesota. And, as an aside, no state has the Red-Tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk or American Kestrel? No Osprey? How about the Hooded Merganser? Fuck your wrens, warblers and mockingbirds -- let's talk birds of substance!
posted by VicNebulous at 11:46 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peacocks!? Have you ever lived near peacocks? You don't want to.

Oh, Christ, yes -- if only for a few days. Nothing like being awaken every 30 minutes or so, all night long, by the mournful wailing of impaled demons from a Bruegel painting.
posted by VicNebulous at 11:51 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I take it by your reaction that they are not the noble, beautiful creatures I've been led to believe they are.

Oh they are beautiful and the babies, who walk like ducklings in a long row, are enchanting. But the noise, dear god the constant screeching.

Fun fact: They have infested some parts of Palos Verdes, California-- roaming the streets and shrieking their heads off.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2013


For reference: peacocks yelling.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2013


Peacocks yelling is a really disturbing sound. I would not want to live near them.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2013


The thing that cannot be imparted by description or video is the devastating loudness of peacocks. One guy across the street kept some in his yard. Another guy down the hill owned a Harley with straight pipes. I had an audio tape of the peacocks completely drowning out the Harley climbing the hill between our place and the birds. During mating season, they'd start tuning up right around 5 AM. The birds, I mean.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2013


Used to have a thriving Great Blue Heron Rookery across the street from our house. Luckily, we didn't live directly beneath them, so we didn't have to worry about the... fallout. But in the spring, when the young were growing, it was like having a Housewives of Dinosaur County riot next door. Very, very strange, and very, very noisy. On the waterfront, you always see them hunting individually. Quiet. Maybe you assume it's to improve their stealth. Nope. They're just so fucking tired of all the screaming all the time when they get home that when they get to work, they're like, "Wow. This private sandbar is nice and quiet. Fuck it, I'm working late tonight."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:54 PM on May 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, thanks, Metafilter. You ruined peacocks for me.

Next you'll tell me fried PopTart sandwiches aren't actually good for me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:31 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peacocks are great. You just don't want to live too close to them. Kind of like teenagers.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:36 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


They sound like bicycle horns. This would be comical at first, but would quickly drive me insane.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:02 PM on May 21, 2013


No worries on the PopTarts. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they're a superfood.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:36 PM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Superfund
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:39 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


emjaybee: "Metafilter: I have already ranted about the Mississippi state bird in another forum."

You'll be happy to know that yet another friend has sent me this article, so I have been able to rant yet *again* about the superiority of the Mississippi Kite.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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