Brown thrasher facts
Description: A large, skulking bird of thickets and hedgerows. Boldly patterned, long tail, bright rufous upper parts, underparts white or buff with black streaking.
Habits: Conspicuous when singing on its territory, hardly discernable during the rest of year. An aggressive defender of its nest, the brown thrasher is known to strike people and dogs hard enough to draw blood.
Sound: The brown thrasher has one of the largest song repertoires of any North American bird, a long series of variable phrases separated by pauses. Phrases usually uttered twice; includes mimicked calls of other birds.
Migration: Lives year-round in Southeast, expands to most of eastern North America during summer. Brown thrasher is considered a short-distance migrant, but two individuals have been recorded in Europe.
Young: Leave the nest at only 9 to 13 days old, earlier than either of its smaller relatives, the Northern Mockingbird or Gray Catbird.
Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology
It seems dirty campaigning has infiltrated all levels of office, even that of the state bird.
So Pierre Howard, president of the Georgia Conservancy, has started a petition in defense of the brown thrasher.
“It’s a beloved symbol,” Howard said. “We’ve had tremendous response.”
Howard said so far, about 650 people had signed the online petition. The petition was started following the announcement that the Flip the Birds Campaign had started a movement to change the state bird from the brown thrasher to the chicken.
The group claimed the chicken a more worthy bird for the title not only for its tasty meat but for the millions of dollars it has contributed to Georgia’s economy.
But Howard said while the chicken is important to Georgia’s economy, it does not accurately represent the state’s wildlife.
“A state bird is not chosen necessarily to promote any interest,” Howard said. “It is chosen to represent to the world the bird life of the state.”
The group also claimed the brown thrasher to be a migratory bird, which Howard said is simply not true.
“It’s a permanent resident of Georgia,” Howard said. “It occurs in every county.”
According to the Georgia Conservancy, the brown thrasher was selected as the state bird by a vote of Georgia school children in 1928.
On April 6, 1935, Gov. Eugene Talmadge declared the brown thrasher the state bird. Following a push by the Garden Clubs of Georgia, the General Assembly adopted a resolution officially making the brown thrasher the state bird in 1970.
Despite the way the campaigns are shaping up, it is unlikely the General Assembly will address the state symbol this year due to the budget crisis state legislators are currently focused on.