It’s time for a less fair-weather state bird

I’ve heard all the arguments in favor of the meadowlark as our state bird, but I still say it’s time we make a change. Hear me out on this before you start writing me threatening letters.

I admit, I do like Western meadowlarks. They’re harbingers of spring, ushering in the new season with their distinctive, if sometimes annoying, song. I say annoying because they just. Won’t. Stop. Singing. Ever.

Meadowlark singing

I don’t think this meadowlark is so much singing as complaining about the spring snowstorm.

Also, I tend to think of Wyoming as a place where we like to do our own thing. We don’t follow the herd. We do the right thing, even if it’s unpopular.

So why do we follow nearly other state west of the Mississippi River in choosing the Western meadowlark as our state bird? We have a unique state tree, with the cottonwood; a unique flower, with the Indian paintbrush; even a unique state reptile, with the horned lizard. Why can’t we have our very own state bird?

And why do we want a state bird that flies away when the weather starts getting crummy? Most of our people don’t do that – we stick around through the wind, the snow, the wind, the rain, the wind, the hail, and the wind.

Why should we celebrate a bird that picks up and moves south at the first hint of snow in the air?

Magpie on a fence

Isn’t this a much better match for the tough, rugged people who make Wyoming their home?

I propose we shift our allegiances to a bird that sticks around all year long. One that’s resourceful, like us; intelligent, like us; and maybe a little mischievous, like us. My vote is for the magpie.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say. I’ve heard it from a bunch of people, that they peck out the eyes of baby calves; they steal dog food; and they kidnap small children and clean out senior citizens’ bank accounts. Whatever. They’ll eat dead stuff, sure, but they don’t do any of that other stuff. And why shouldn’t we honor a fellow omnivore?

I think all those other wives’ tales were spread by meadowlark lovers, anyway. So here’s to the magpie – our fellow year-long residents who are crafty, durable, and sometimes misunderstood. Just like us.

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