Will Florida have a new state bird? Three bills were filed in Tallahassee to replace Mockingbird

Mockingbird – Courtesy: Image by Bonnie Taylor Barry

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Mockingbird has been Florida’s state bird since 1927, and now 94 years later, the Sunshine State has filed three bills to change it.

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

This petition was created by Travis Horn, along with a Tampa radio host to replace the bird. They are working alongside Senator Brande’s 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.”

However, several bird enthusiasts have expressed their opinions on what bird should replace the Mockingbird. Tina Polsky, West Palm Beach State Senator, filed Senate Bill 378, in addition to 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.”

On Thursday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to reiterate their 2008 position that the Osprey should be chosen as the new state bird. In 2008, their position was followed by a grueling year-long survey within Florida schools, which did not have the Florida scrub-jay as an option. 

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

Executive Director of Audubon Florida stated that the organization, which primarily focuses on the rehabilitation and conservation of birds in Florida, does not have an opinion on what the new state bird should be. She stated that the top four contenders include: The osprey, Florida scrub-jay, 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 healthy. 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 ongoing petition and website to choose which new bird will represent the Sunshine State, click here.

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