The choosing of birds as emblems of State gripped the nation in the late 20s/early 30s. For instance, running safely ahead of the red-headed woodpecker and the purple martin, the Brown Thrasher was chosen by the school children of Georgia in 1928. The campaign was inaugurated by the Fifth District of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and was sponsored by the Atlanta Bird Club and kindred groups. Interest in the campaign in Idaho ran high. As the State Federation Conservation Chairman, Mrs. E. H. Barton presented the western tanager as the choice of the women’s clubs of the State. But the children overruled her and in the balloting the Mountain Bluebird, meadowlark and robin were favorites. The former lead the field and was generally endorsed, so Mrs. Barton fostered official approval by the Legislature and this became law in 1931.
In Illinois the State bird campaign developed the meadowlark, song sparrow, wren and the bobwhite as favorites, together with the catbird. Mrs. J. D. MaKinney of the State Federation sponsored a bill for the catbird, which, for some reason, emerged as a bill for the Cardinal, which was legally approved on June 4, 1929. Back in 1924, under the leadership of Miss Madeleine Aaron, secretary of the Audubon Society of Kansas, a campaign was launched for selection of a State bird. Widespread publicity was given and a large vote was gotten out, giving the Western Meadowlark a plurality of some 121,000 votes over the other candidates. This day, January 29, 1925, marks the culmination of a remarkably successful educational campaign. James Lane Allen made the Cardinal the favored bird of Kentucky in his famous book of that name, and it was both natural and inevitable that it be established as the official State bird. The 1926 session of the Legislature passed such a resolution, which was approved February 17, 1926. The Pelican was established as Louisiana’s State bird through the medium of the State Seal, which was formally designated in 1902 by the then Governor Heard. Maine’s legislators officially approved the Chickadee as the State bird in 1927 after a campaign conducted by the State Federation of Women’s Clubs.
It may be said that Maryland was presented with a state bird nearly a century and a half before it became a state. It is related that when George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, founder of a colony on Newfoundland, became wearied by the severity of the climate and by persecution, he went to northern Virginia (now Maryland) where he was granted a large tract of land. Here he selected as the colors for his coat of arms the orange and black of a beautiful bird that he found common among the trees. A century later Catesby, in the account of his famous travels in Virginia and Carolina, called this the Baltimore bird, and from his description the great naturalist Linnaeus formally described the bird in 1758. Ever since that time the Baltimore Oriole has been Maryland’s state bird.