Monday, June 16, 2008

Politics is for the Birds


I've spent a lot of today working on girls camp stuff. I have been having to do some research for some of the nature hike requirements. I came upon this little known controversy that occurred in the great state of Washington. I can't believe I had never heard of the infamous Meadowlark/Goldfinch brouhaha.

The Washington Legislature struggled to adopt an official state bird for the state for at least twenty-three years beginning in 1928.

In 1928, the first of three campaigns was produced to decide on an appropriate bird to represent Washington. State legislators approached Washington school children with the question. Overwhelmingly, the children decided that the western meadowlark was the best choice. The meadowlark is a wonderful bird, but legislators were concerned that this bird was popular in too many other states. Two other states had just adopted the western meadowlark (1927) as their own. Next door, the Governor of Oregon had proclaimed the western meadowlark that state's official bird and in Wyoming, the Legislature had adopted the western meadowlark as its official state bird. The western meadowlark was popular, though unofficial, in several other states as well.

The Washington Legislature did not take any action on the 1928 vote and, in 1931, the Washington Federation of Women's Clubs sponsored another state-wide referendum. In this contest, the willow goldfinch (American goldfinch) made a strong showing over the western tanager, the song sparrow, the junco and the pileated woodpecker.
By 1951, after two state-wide contests, the Washington Legislature still had not approved a bird to officially represent the state. They called for run-off between the western meadowlark and the willow goldfinch.

The willow goldfinch (American goldfinch) was adopted as the official state bird of the State of Washington in 1951.

And now you know.

3 comments:

Keira said...

I would have gone with the pileated woodpecker. I mean, how awesome would that have been to work into a casual conversation?!

crashhanna said...

I'm just glad the the "junco" didn't make it. I mean, how embarassing would that be - to have to admit that your state bird was the junco.

Suzanne said...

I just learned that tanager is a bird!!! Holy cow, I live on Tanager Circle. It makes sense now. Our neighborhood has a bunch of bird names that I've never heard of.