State symbols are often adopted after a collaborative effort by citizens and students to have a significant item recognized for its importance to the state. States such as Florida, and many others began to adopt some of their own official state symbols several decades ago, and in some cases, over 100 years ago. A state symbol can come in the form of state animals, insects, birds, flowers, amphibians, nicknames, state seals, and much more.
Citizens, children, and educational institutions often research a particular symbol and make a request for a bill, tracking it all the way through the legislative process with the hope that it is enacted, and a new state symbol is announced for Florida. Like other states, there are many Florida state symbols. The Florida state bird and flower are the Orange blossom (Citrus sinensis) and the Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos).
What is the Florida State Bird?
The Mockingbird has been Florida’s official state bird since 1927, which was during a period of time when the state of Florida relied much more on agriculture to support its economy. Nowadays the state is much more heavily populated on the coasts which have diversified Florida’s economy tremendously.
The famous mockingbird is also the state bird of Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Northern mockingbirds have incredibly unique vocal capabilities and can sign over 200 different songs even mimicking the noises of other animals and humans!
How many mockingbirds are there? With bird populations decreasing and increasing seemingly annually, it is nice to see the Northern Mockingbird increasing in population each year, with over 45 million estimated individuals, and over 32 million breeding birds.
Here are some quickfire facts on the Mockingbird:
- They typically grow to around 10 inches (25 cm) in length, with an impressive 15-inch (38 cm) wingspan.
- They help out humans tremendously by feeding on insects, weed seeds, and other harmful critters.
- A mockingbird home is a joint effort from both the male and female bird, created with grass and twigs and is usually made in a bush or dense tree.
- Three to six eggs are laid per nest, the eggs are a pale blue color with brown freckles.
New Florida State Bird
As we know, the northern mockingbird has been the state bird of Florida for almost 100 years, however, there has been an effort to dethrone it, and instead replace it with a bird that is more unique to the state of Florida.
The Florida state sen., Jeff Brandes has stated that “Part of what we’re working to do is highlight that Florida has these incredible species and we should recognize the bird that most represents Florida,”. “To me, it’s a fun conversation to have”. This sparked plenty of debate and attention from the Floridian natives.
Since this statement was made and the debate was born, 4 candidates have been discovered, the Florida scrub-jay, Flamingo, Osprey, and Roseate spoonbill have all been shortlisted to take over the mockingbird as the official state bird of Florida.
Both the roseate spoonbill and the flamingo share a similar pink coloration and are also large birds. They are both found more commonly throughout the state and are not listed as a threatened species. Their habitat is typically the Florida shoreline or on the islands.
If you are from Florida, or reside in the state and have an interest in changing the official Florida state bird, you can vote for a new one here. So far, over 1,000 people have signed the petition for a new state bird to represent Florida.
What is the Florida State Flower?
The orange blossom (Citrus sinensis) was originally adopted as the Florida state flower back in 1909. The blossom of the orange tree is undoubtedly a popular flower in Florida and it is also one of the most fragrant flowers in the state.
Tens of millions of white flowers from orange trees will perfume the air in southern and central Florida during the infamous orange blossom time period. Oranges are a popular symbol of Florida, with the fruit being recognized as the official state fruit, state juice, and state beverage.
Here are some facts about the orange blossom:
- On June 27th every year there a National Orange Blossom Day is held.
- There are 5 petals and 5 sepals on each flower.
- The center of the flower is a spiral shape that consists of 20 to 25 stamens.
- Oranges grow on the trees during the fall and winter months.
- The blossoms are grown on the tree during the spring months.
- They appear in clusters that are usually made up of 6 flowers.
- For cooking, the blossoms should be used within 4 hours after picking them.
- The blossoms are used in salads and desserts as they give a nice citrus taste.
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Sunshine State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state bird and flower.