What should your state's bird be?

I’ve never understood why the Yellow-billed Magpie is not California’s state bird, since it’s California’s only endemic bird.

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Utah’s State Bird is a California Gull? Huh…

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Personally, I’d vote for the Acorn Woodpecker for the California state bird.

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The gull choice dates back to the early days of the Mormons there – apparently a large flock of them saved the settler’s farm fields from a locust infestation.

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Baltimore Oriole is honestly a superior state bird for MD. Named after one of our founders, native here, beautiful, only assigned to our state. I think Maine switching from the Chickadee would be good but I think the Atlantic Puffin would be a better choice than the guillemot.

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Duck and feral pigeon for every state.

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There’s certainly no shortage of them!

The two things that I would change about the current state bird list is the amount of duplicates, and the non-native species. This one solves one of those, but still includes non-natives. And I do agree with @psweet that it would make more sense to go with birds that either nest or winter in the state.

Really my favorite state bird is Utah with the California Gull because that comes with a fun story and is more than just: “we all kind of liked the red one”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_gulls By the way, I am neither Mormon nor from UT.

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I came in here to recommend Sandhill Crane for Wisconsin, and that was your selection, so I majorly approve! We are the location for the International Crane Foundation which is working to restore the Whooping Crane population. Our geography also hosts a lot of wetland! Sandhill Crane all the way!

In light of Wisconsin farmers advocating for hunting them, which could thwart the efforts of the ICF, I have wanted to advocate for this to be our state bird. We have a conservation history with these birds and I feel we must protect them in our state.

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The Island Scrub-jay (Aphelocomia insularis) is also endemic.
That said, I agree Yellow-billed Magpie would be a great state bird.

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Much of the research on Corvid behavior has also come from UW.

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I do agree that Brown Headed Nuthatches are common in South Carolina, but I think the Carolina Chickadee should be the state bird.

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I was literally going to suggest Sandhill Cranes as the state bird for Wisconsin.

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I’m not averse to the snow goose for Delaware, but the blue hen has a long history within the state:
“According to one story, during the [Revolutionary War] the men of Captain Jonathan Caldwell’s company, recruited in [Kent County], took with them [game chickens] that were said to be of the brood of a famous Blue Hen and were noted for their fighting ability.”
So, though not native, it seems a good choice.
As for PA, from whence I originate, I suppose the peregrine falcon would make PA seem fiercer and tougher. I am fond of the ruffed grouse though. :)

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I like Wood Duck for Ohio, I even saw one once! But in all fairness, the bird I see the most often here by far (because of the high visibility I suppose, when most birds camouflage instead) is Northern Cardinal, the official state bird - so can’t really argue with that choice much, unless we really don’t want to share it with other states…

Who gets the Mallard?

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We all know that in every state that isn’t literally desert, people who think that they are witty will say that mosquitoes are the state bird.

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Am.

Am.

I, for one, really love and like to celebrate seagulls. The mentality has been lost on most other Mormons though. Sad, because it’s one of the cooler parts of being Mormon, in my opinion. Many Utahns see them as a nuisance, Mormon or not. (Cannot relate.)

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Wood ducks are awesome! Ohioans are lucky to see so many of them.

Mallards are the most observed birds in Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. However, they comprise the highest percentage of observations in Utah, where mallards are 4.2% of observations, compared to Michigan’s 4.0% mallard. The mallard’s lead in Utah vs. Michigan is much smaller than the rock pigeon’s lead in Utah vs. New York (5.6% vs. 3.8%), so the rock pigeon was assigned as Utah’s state bird.

No state got the mallard as its state bird - mallard observations are too evenly-spread among its most frequent states.

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Not odd at all, if you know their history/mythology, and the gulls are there year-round, breeding not only at Great Salt Lake but at many other reservoirs and wetlands around the state. They have an impressive monument to the “seagull” in Salt Lake City

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The thing about state birds that I think much of the official ones, and the new map, fails to understand is that in my opinion, state symbols shouldn’t be just some random pretty bird found in the state (like some of the states with cardinal), but it also shouldn’t be determined numerically by an algorithm (as seen here). State birds aren’t based on abundance, but instead how they make you feel and what is culturally important in your state.

Minnesota, my home state, is a great example. The loon isn’t the state bird because it’s ultra common compared to other states, but instead because it’s a symbol of the scenic, cabin-filled glacial lakes in the northern half of the state. When you’re walleye fishing on a boat at sunset on a warm summer night and hear the haunting call echo across the lake, that to me is what a state bird should be-- unique, and reminiscent of a state’s specific landscape and general vibes. Louisiana’s brown pelican works, and whistling duck doesn’t, because brown pelicans make me think of the Gulf coast and the Mississippi delta, of warm sea breezes and coastal bayous.

I think the bird should be native where appropriate-- so Hawaii’s as red-crested cardinal is pretty bad, because Hawaii has some absolute treasures of native birds that could really use attention, but are also symbolic of the state’s culture and landscape. Hawaiian goose is great, an endemic and iconic bird-- but I think the best choice would be the i’iwi-- a bright-red, taxonomically unique treasure found in lush forests that also symbolizes Hawaii’s tropical climate and has been well-known by native people for thousands of years.

Some of these work, if only by coincidence. Wisconsin as sandhill crane is perfect; it makes me think of Aldo Leopold’s beloved grasslands. Michigan’s as a Kirtland’s Warbler feels so obvious because it’s a threatened well-known native bird that makes me instantly think of the state and its forests; I’m shocked it’s not officially Kirtland’s.

Some are slight improvements, but could be better. In my new home state of Oregon, golden-crowned sparrow is much better than western meadowlark, but it doesn’t feel uniquely Oregon. I think Oregon Vesper sparrow could be cool-- a threatened endemic that makes one think of the mountain meadows. Or, perhaps the beautiful and threatened pinyon jay found in the scrublands that make up the arid majority of the state.

Overall, I don’t think state birds can be determined by some formula based on abundance data or by state lawmakers who probably don’t know how to identify birds. I think that state birds should be unique, mostly native icons representing the local culture and landscape of a state, and what makes it so special. (As a birder who does both, I also agree with other commenters that eBird, and not iNat, data should be used).

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