State Bird

I recently learned of a campaign to replace Florida’s current state bird, the Northern Mockingbird, with another that is more distinctly Floridian. Four leading contenders have emerged:

  • Florida Scrub-Jay
  • Flamingo
  • Osprey
  • Roseate Spoonbill 
While I’m honestly not sure that the Osprey is any more distinctly Floridan than the Northern Mockingbird (compare their ranges here and here), the other three candidates seem more intriguing. Digging into them a little further, I learned the following:


Florida Scrub-Jay

This blue and gray bird – about the size of the Blue Jay – is one of only 15 species of birds endemic to the United States and the only bird species endemic to Florida. It is federally listed as a threatened species; its population has declined 90% in the last century. An inhabitant of sand pine and xeric oak scrubs, this bird’s distribution is largely across the middle part of the state. Here in Hillsborough County, the Golden Aster Scrub Nature Preserve supports a population that has been described as the “loneliest population of all.”   You can find more information on Florida Scrub-Jays here and here.



Although pink flamingos are definitely part of Florida’s cultural scene, some people debated whether or not they were truly native. Historically found in the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, and the Everglades, scientists thought the native population had been hunted to extinction and that the rare sighting were visitors from the Caribbean. Then, in 2004, scientists found a population in the Everglades that helped proved the bird’s native status. The story is fascinating and well worth reading.

Roseate Spoonbill

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Roseate Spoonbill as a flamboyant species that looks like it “came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book with its bright pink feathers, red eye staring out from a partly bald head, and giant spoon-shaped bill.” It is the only species of spoonbills native to the Americas. Its range is across the central-southwest part of Florida. Local birders have recently reported seeing small flocks in St. Petersburg and Dunedin.

How about you?

Have you seen any of these birds? If so, why not share photos with us either on Facebook @LittleRedWagonNativeNursery or by tagging #NurtureNative on Instagram.