Trevor and I recently finished a puzzle featuring the state birds and state flowers of all 50 states.
The puzzle, which is by Galison (affiliate link), is beautiful and very high-quality.
It is also quite challenging. I'm still not great at estimating how difficult a puzzle will be, and this one was harder than I thought. Turns out, there are a lot of brownish birds. Not to mention, there are a lot of repeated birds. Of the 50 states, 7 of them have a cardinal as their state bird. Which brings me to my main topic for today's post: I wish each state had a unique state bird.
The California Valley Quail is ours and I think it's perfect for the job of state bird. It's native to California, found in most parts of the states, abundant, and easily recognizable. We get baby quail in our yard all the time and they are the cutest things ever. But most convincingly, the California Valley Quail has the state name in its name! The California Valley Quail is an outstanding choice for California's state bird.
The Birdist makes a case for the California Condor being California's state bird and I'd be fine with that too. (Maybe we need a state bird and a state raptor.) I would be less fine with the California Gull. While, like the Quail, it is native to California, found across the state, abundant, easily recognizable, and has the word "California" in it, it is not universally loved here. Gulls are crop pests and can be particularly detrimental to the cherry harvest. They hang out in parking lots and other urban locations (as well as landfills). They are famous for begging for food (or just blatantly stealing it) at beaches, parks, outdoor restaurants, or anywhere else people eat. Not quite the way California wants to present itself.
And yet... the California Gull IS the state bird. Just not of California. It is the state bird of Utah. Utah holds the unique distinction of being the only state to choose a state bird named for a different state. (Rhode Island and South Carolina both have birds named for their states. Maryland's bird, the Baltimore Oriole, shares its name with a major city in the state.) Utah does have a good reason for choosing the California Gull as their state bird, but still.
Back to The Birdist. I laughed out loud (and startled Brayden) about Florida. I'm still snickering about the state beverage. A tip of the hat to you, sir.
For the 30 states who share their state bird with at least one other state, All About Birds used eBird to propose alternatives. I love what they've come up with. Each state deserves a unique state bird. All 50 managed to choose different state flowers; there's no reason it shouldn't be the same for other state symbols.