Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Stephanie suggested that the Mystery Bird could be a goldfinch. After looking at some pictures online, I think she's right!

Also, I discovered just now that the goldfinch is the official bird of Washington State...and that it only took the Washington State Legislature over 23 years to make this decision. Typical. We're just lucky Tim Eyman never got a chance to launch a referendum, or the whole thing might have dragged out another 23 years.

Adoption of the Washington State Bird
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. [I like the way the writer is letting the meadowlark down easy here.] 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.



  1. Oh, cool! I didn't know those were out there. I see them pretty frequently in these parts. They really stand out bc they're such a bright yellow, and they're really small and cute. They usually seem to fly around in pairs, and their flight is really cute. They kind of loop around from tree to tree. I don't know how to describe it; I just know I always feel happy when I see them!

    That's pretty silly that Washington took so long to decide. I don't remember what NY's bird is. I'm going to check right now. Mark thinks it's a robin. I'm going to guess turkey. Or some kind of duck. I don't know.

  2. It's an eastern bluebird! That's too bad, because there aren't that many of them left anymore. I've only seen one in my entire life. And when I mentioned it to my mom she was really excited because she hadn't seen one in a really long time. She said she used to see them quite frequently, growing up in New Jersey.

  3. I'm glad I inspired you to research your state bird! :)