A bill that would
change Washington State’s official bird from the willow goldfinch
to the great blue heron is clearly a debate that pits the
bark-eaters, like me, against the farm boys, like reporter Ed
According to the Cornell
Lab of Ornithology, “The goldfinch’s main natural habitats are
weedy fields and floodplains, where plants such as thistles and
asters are common. They’re also found in cultivated areas,
roadsides, orchards, and backyards.”
Friedrich, who grew up in South Kitsap back in the old days when
it was still largely rural, said he used to see them all the time
in the fields of his youth.
I live in the woods of South Kitsap and spend a lot of time
walking outdoors. I can’t say I’d know a goldfinch if it flew smack
into me. They don’t come to our feeders. The heck with them.
The term “bark-eaters,” by the way, originated with former Arts
& Entertainment editor Deborah Woolston, who once referred to
South Kitsap as “land of the bark-eaters.”
Back on topic, I’d like to know how the heck the goldfinch was
chosen as our state bird in the first place.
There’s nothing about the bird that says, “Washington State.”
Its range is widespread,
again from the Cornell Lab: pretty much all of North America.
The map actually shows the gold finch is more often sighted in the
Midwest and on the East Coast, than in the west.
The goldfinch is so common, in fact, that it’s also the state
bird of Iowa and New Jersey … New Jersey! And, yes, Jim Dunwiddie, I know there’s
more to your former home state than the New Jersey Turnpike.
Another thing that’s just wrong about having the goldfinch as
our state bird is that, according to the Cornell Lab map (first
linked page), the bird pretty much vacates Washington in the summer
(I may be misinterpreting the map, and am sure to hear from
nitpicking birdwatchers on this).
Now, about the heron. It’s a beautiful bird, plentiful around
Puget Sound beaches. It’s graceful in flight and great at stabbing
things with its beak, which is, like, a ninja skill of the bird
By the way, have you ever noticed how they always name
developments after the critters that used to be there before the
houses went in? I used to live near Heron Ridge, before it was
Heron Ridge. Herons used to roost in the woods, scores of them. It
was quite a sight. I’m sure they’ve found other places to roost. I
wonder if they still pack together like that. Maybe you
birdwatchers out there can help me out.
Now I’m starting to sound like
Ed Friedrich talking about road kill.
It seems like the great blue heron better represents the Puget
Sound region than any other area of the state. So probably the best
thing about this bill is that it’ll give the folks in Western
Washington and Eastern Washington something to argue about besides
Next I think we ought to mess with the state fossil, which is
currently the Columbian Mammoth. Any nominations for a
In fact, lets just redo the entire
list. Have at it:
State folk song:
State marine mammal:
State endemic mammal: