A House Republican on Tuesday proposed designating the Florida scrub-jay as the official state bird, displacing the mockingbird, which has held the designation for nearly a century.
Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven, filed the proposal (HB 1) for consideration during the 2023 legislative session, which will start in March.
Killebrew proposed a similar bill for the 2022 session, but it was not heard in committees.
The new bill said the mockingbird was designated the state bird during the 1927 legislative session.
The Florida scrub-jay lives nowhere in the world except Florida; it has a complicated social system, it has been the subject of very detailed field studies, and it is threatened by loss of habitat.
Formerly considered just a race of the scrub-jays found in the west, it is now classified as a full species.
According to Audubon.org, as of the early 1990s, the total population was estimated at about 4,000 pairs, probably a reduction of more than 90% from original numbers.
Loss of habitat has been the main problem. Prime Florida oak scrub is maintained by occasional fires, so fire prevention has added to the effect of ongoing development in squeezing out the jay’s habitat.