TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A bill filed in the Florida Senate last week aims to change the state bird from the mockingbird to the Florida scrub-jay.
Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) filed “Designation of the State Bird” (SB-162) on Oct. 10.
Polsky filed a nearly identical bill in the 2023 legislative session that died in the Environment and Natural Resources committee. The bill’s counterpart in the Florida House of Representatives also failed to make it past the Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee.
The Northern mockingbird has been Florida’s state bird for nearly 100 years, but its habitat ranges from the east coast to the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, according to the Audubon Society. Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas have also named it their official state bird.
As Polsky wrote in the bill, the Florida scrub-jay is the only bird species that can be found exclusively in the Sunshine State. Its population is limited to colonies in portions of central Florida, according to the Audubon Society, and faces a mounting threat from habitat loss.
With a few thousand birds remaining in the wild, the Florida scrub-jay is considered to be a threatened species, according to Florida wildlife officials. It is protected federally by the Endangered Species Act and as a federally-designated threatened species by the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species rule.
Florida lawmakers have mulled changing the state bird in multiple failed attempts since 2016. If passed in the 2024 legislative session, Polsky’s bill would immediately become law.