Should Florida change state bird? 3 bills filed in Tallahassee to replace Mockingbird

Florida scrub jay, osprey, roseate spoonbill and flamingo among top contenders

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Mockingbird has been the state bird of Florida since 1927 and now 94 years later, three bills have been filed to change Florida’s state bird.

In September, Tampa State Senator Jeff Brandes filed Senate Concurrent Resolution “rescinding the designation of the mockingbird as the state bird.”

Travis Horn created this petition, along with a Tampa radio host to replace the Mockingbird and is working alongside Senator Brandes’ effort.

“We think we deserve a bird that is more representative of this state, that is flashy, colorful and we don’t think the Mockingbird does it,” said Horn, “We don’t have a favorite bird, we aren’t trying to voice a particular bird, we say let the school kids pick.”

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However, bird enthusiasts already have their opinions on what bird should replace the Mockingbird. West Palm Beach State Senator Tina Polsky filed Senate Bill 378, along with a house companion bill to name the Florida scrub-jay as the new state bird.

“My favorite is the Florida scrub-jay,” said Cathy Brown, Executive Director of the Florida scrub-jay Consortium and trail in Clermont. “It is unique only to Florida. There are other scrub-jays in different parts of the country, but not Florida scrub-jays. This is a bird you will find nowhere in the world but Florida.”

However, last Thursday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to reiterate their 2008 position that the Osprey should be the new state bird. Their position in 2008 was followed by a year-long survey in Florida Schools, which didn’t have the Florida scrub-jay as an option, activists said.

“We did a lot of work with this already,” FWC Chariman Rodney Barreto said. “If we don’t mind dusting it off and endorsing it by resolution here.”

Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida said the organization, which focuses on conservation and rehabilitation of birds in Florida, doesn’t have an opinion on what the new state bird should be, but said the four top contenders include: The Florida scrub-jay, the osprey, the roseate spoonbill and the flamingo.

“I joke at Audubon, we are the bird people we don’t choose between our kids. I think they are all good proposals,” Wraithmell said. “I would encourage people if you are team scrub-jay, you really need to care about land management, and prescribed burns that keep the habitat health. If you are team osprey you need to care about climate change and if you are team roseate spoonbill and flamingo, you need to care about restoring the everglades.”

For more information on the petition and website to choose a new state bird, click here.

Also, vote in our News 6 poll on what bird you’d like to see as Florida’s new state bird if the legislation is passed.