Archive for Thursday, March 6, 2008

Change needed in state bird

March 6, 2008

I was driving Sunday between De Soto and Eudora on the old highway. I frequently take the two-lane road with its 45 mph speed limit because I can take my time and notice things. What I noticed Sunday was division in the clouds that ran from the southwest to the northeast. To the northwest of that division, the clouds were much darker and it was a harbinger of a cool front, which my mother told me dropped temperatures in Paxico 30 degrees from the afternoon high, to the weekend's warm if blustery weather.

That's March - itself a division between the seasons.

Soon, I spotted in the ditch another sign of the transition from winter to spring. Sitting on the top of one of last year's cattails was a red-winged blackbird, the first I'd seen this year. Since then, I've seen three others. They'll be around until late spring when they'll again disappear, taking off - I assume - for cooler climates.

I've also noticed turkey buzzards are back, circling the sky above.

The fickle birds of spring are back, gracing us with their presence now that the short cold days of winter are behind us.

Recently on a bitter cold day, I drove by a field filled with ravens near the same place I saw the redwing blackbird. The ravens - I'm relatively sure they weren't crows - had found something in the tilled acreage half covered with patches of snow to sustain them. They were peacefully pecking away in their sleek, black plumage .

I think ravens are cool. In fact, I think one should be the state bid.

Sure the meadowlark has the nice PO-TEET call going for it and a more colorful appearance, but it doesn't have the character of the raven. Also, the meadowlark is the state bird of five other states. How can it be our state bird and that of Nebraska, Wyoming, Oregon, North Dakota and Montana ,too? If meadowlarks were forced to pick a state, what makes us think they would pick us over the five other contenders?

Even without resorting to an Internet search, I'm confident no state has made the raven its state bird.

I think the state should take advantage of this oversight by recognizing the unique bird. True, nobody ever characterizes the raven as "majestic," as they do eagles, but some can get quite big and average the size of hawks.

Perhaps it's their blackness, but ravens have a mystery about them. Just as with cats, there seems to be a lot going on in their noggins.

They were a muse to Edger Allen Poe and regularly protrayed as familiars to fictional witches. It is said they can even be taught to mimic words - you won't get that from some fence-sitting song bird.

Ravens, and even their smaller cousin the crow, are in Kansas all year long. They don't disappear when the Midland's weather gets frigid in the winter or scorching hot in the summer. They're adapted to the state and seem to have weathered this year's bad winter just fine.

And while the raven's Kaw might not be sweet - and some might actually find it annoying - it has one important thing going for it. Kaw is afterall the state's nickname.

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