The State of State Birds

BIRDS ARE FOWL

It’s for the birds




There’s a fight going on in Florida about what the official state bird should be. It doesn’t matter what the details are. What matters is the question of why does there have to be a state bird in the first place?

State birds don’t bring in revenue. I get that there are people obsessed with birds. They might travel to the state to see the bird. Bird watchers might spend a few bucks on gas and motels. They’ll buy food and maybe some bird seed.

But, other than that, the money brought in by state birds is negligible. It’s not like the birds can go out and sell advertising or make contributions to political campaigns.

Why make a fuss about state birds?

Now I could understand if the state bird was some sort of a dirty bird that had a poor reputation. Crows used to wake me up at daybreak. It was needless and annoying. I’d go out and throw rocks at them until they surmised I couldn’t hit them. They’d just caw until my shoulder yelled at me more than they did. Then they’d laugh. I know they were laughing.

Other fowls like pigeons shouldn’t be considered as birds of any notoriety. They mostly lay waste to statues and freshly washed vehicles. Same thing goes for seagulls. They fly around looking for food. Good luck if you’re trying to enjoy a basket of fish and chips by the seashore.

https://www.youtube.com/c/WaggleTV

So why would politicians make a big deal about which bird best represents the state where their constituents live? Why do politicians do anything? They have to distract from actually doing something useful. If they actually took a stand on something meaningful, we might confront them. But, if they do something trivial, they appear to be doing something and still get taken out to lunch and get a paycheck.

There was a guy I knew that would patrol around a warehouse carrying a clipboard. He would look up and down at inventory on the racks. He’d then mark something on the clipboard and periodically look at his watch. Nobody knew what he did, but he looked busy, so that’s all that counted.

Politicians are like that.

That guy would’ve made a fine congressman. Bird watchers do the same thing, except they don’t get paid. I’ve always wondered where the dedication came from to plot out a excursion and venture out to track down birds. To treat the countryside of some far off acreage like it was a large, open air aviary.

That, in this country, where everything is monetized, that there is a faction of bird-on-the-brain enthusiasts that would forego monied concerns and chase rare feather bearers. People that have been trained to be part of a capital gathering system going out of their way to pursue a fleeting glimpse of a whooping crane.

There had to be someone somewhere that had too much to drink and proposed a professional league of bird watching aficionados. That would be an American thing to do. Some enterprising person who had the networking and fundraising skill to lure investors while also being able to make a mean martini.

“We should find a sponsor.” Says the sloshed would-be bird watching entrepreneur.

“If we could find some way to get compensated. Let’s say whoever can find the most birds wins a prize. No more of this taking the word of somebody that has the most checkmarks of what they claim to have seen. I mean, an actual competition.”

“It’s been tried before. There isn’t that much interest in a bird finding contest.” said one of the two English sisters that wear matching pith helmets and camouflage birding shirts.

“It’s difficult to get birdwatchers nowadays. Much less to find someone to fund something like that.” said the other one.

“This is America! Our business is competition. Once we have a sizable prize, there will be bird watchers falling out of the trees. People will come from all over just to follow the competition.” said the inebriated would be bird watching league commissioner.

“Wait a minute!” said a gentleman that has spent well over forty years planning and plotting birding excursions. “The point of birding is to find them in their natural habitat. It’s a well-honed skill to locate a bird and observe them undisturbed. The habitat should remain unruffled. We can’t have multiple teams of contestants ransacking the countryside in pursuit of profits!”

The group broke out in applause.

The boozy would be professional birder was unswayed. Using his powers of persuasion, he knew that his proposal would have to be bolstered. He looked around the room and realized that he was losing his audience. He would have to regain their attention.

“I don’t know if you know this, but Steve Martin is a renowned birder and a personal friend of mine.”

Jim Summaria, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

There was an audible gasp of recognition. Everybody in the room knew of the beloved actor and his love of birds.

“I’m going to speak with him and gauge his interest. He knows people. Meet me back here in the morning!” said the drunken name dropper as he made his exit.

The rest of the attendees were stunned. Some laughed and didn’t believe.

“Steve Martin? Now I’ve heard everything.”

Others thought maybe he knew what he was talking about because he hadn’t made claims like that before.

“Did you hear that? Steve Martin is going to sponsor us!”

“My numerologist told me there’d be a dark stranger baring good things.”

“Steve Martin isn’t a dark stranger, dear.”

“Not him. The fellow that knows him.”

“I heard he is a show business mogul. We’re very lucky to have someone of his stature in our little club.”

Either way, discussions between the feathered creature fanatics went on through the night.

The next morning the zealots of the winged descendants of the dinosaur, gathered to hear of what the supposed knower of the celebrity potential benefactors' findings may be. The room was abuzz with the many potential outcomes. Whatever the case may be, it was better than previous mundane gatherings.

They were all enjoying coffee and an assortment of muffins when the doors swung open at precisely 9AM. The now severely hungover would-be sporting savant entered and, without saying a word, headed directly to the refreshment table.

Everyone sat there and waited for the announcement. The suddenly silent savior sat down, bleary-eyed, staring at nothing in particular. After a few moments, one of the British twins in matching pith helmets and camouflage birding shirts spoke up.

“Excuse me, sir. Have you contacted Steve Martin about sponsoring a contest prize for us?”

“Who?” the man said, staring at the twin like his ears had deceived him.

When she repeated the question, and, like an avalanche, his answer descended. Like a Jeep Wrangler with a tight turning radius, he executed a precise turn.

“Steve Martin?” he said. “Are you a loon? How would I know how to contact him? Even if I did, why would he be interested in a crazy idea like sponsoring something as small potatoes as a bird watching competition?”

With that, the other British twin hit him with her satchel as a bird call whistle flew out and hit him right between the eyes. The other twin threw a bag of birdseed at him as he absconded out of the room.

The last they heard of him, he was living in Coral Gables on a 40 foot sailboat with a former Bahamanian strip teaser. He was running birding excursions and petitioning to change the Florida state bird from the mockingbird to the pink flamingo.

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