Bird Blogging

I’ve become quite the birdwatcher recently, even going so far as to install a new shepherd’s hook in the backyard complete with Finch Feeder and a new dual-use suet/seed feeder.

I first got the bug hard when we hung our initial seed feeder and Hummingbird feeder over the Summer to fantastic results.

I never got any pictures or video to rival this guy, but still worth the time.

Here’s a recent tally (the past two weekends) of the avian visitors to our yard.

We’ve got a great location for all the birds: running water into our pond, ample brush in the form of native rose bushes and azaleas and good tree cover from Pine, Weeping Cherry & Bradford Pears. Among other reasons that I’m grateful for the approach of Spring is the promise of more (in number & species) birds visiting the feeders and trees of our back yard.

One of our most consistent visitors (apart from the Sparrows, Cardinals & Towhees who seem to always be about) is a particularly conspicuous Brown Thrasher. This guy (or gal) can be seen throughout the door – rooting around the leaf litter with the Towhees & Sparrows, up on the seed feeder with the Cardinals or, most often, perched precariously on the suet feeder waiting for a Wren, Warbler or the ornery Mockingbird to make him move.

I’ve considered his presence a teachable moment, annoying my kids (especially Raelyn) by updating them on his every move. A bird that big (easily 10-11 inches) on a 6-inch suet feeder is kind of ridiculous. Plus, it’s a great time to show off the State Bird of Georgia to an eager First-grader. What kind of parent would pass that up?

Unfortunately, while searching for some additional information on the Brown Thrasher I came across a recent, ongoing campaign by Georgia’s Poultry industry to petition the State Legislature to change the State Bird to the Cornish Chicken. They’re calling it “Flip The Birds“. Needless to say, I was unimpressed.

Because I fancy myself a hot-headed do-gooder I quickly found a counter-petition, signed it and then fired off the following email to the person who appears to be in charge of the Cornish Chicken brigade:

To whom it may concern,

I find your site,, misinformed and misleading due to the lies it is spreading about the State Bird of Georgia, the Brown Thrasher.

On the Brown Thrasher page ( you state two things which are DEMONSTRABLY FALSE:

1) You state that the Brown Thrasher is migratory to Georgia, when in fact it is a year-long, endemic species, occurring in every Georgia county all 12 months of the year:

2) You state that Garden Club of Georgia petitioned the state to change our State Bird to the Brown Thrasher in 1970. This is MISLEADING AND INACCURATE. According to the Secretary of State’s website (

“On April 6, 1935, the Brown Thrasher was first chosen as the Georgia state bird by official proclamation of the Governor.”

There’s also this story from Nature Magazine (

“In 1928, the school children of Georgia selected the brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) as the state bird. According to Nature Magazine (April, 1932),

“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.”

Proposals were made to the Legislature and bills to adopt the brown thrasher as the state bird were introduced, but no action was taken.

On April 6, 1935, the brown thrasher was declared the state bird of Georgia by proclamation of Governor Eugene Talmadge”
Additionally, we have this beautiful bit of description from the pen of the most famous birdwatcher and naturalist in U.S. history, John James Audobon, on the Brown Thrasher:

“The Brown or Ferruginous Thrush is the strongest of the genus in the United States, neither the Mocking-bird nor the Robin being able to cope with it. Like the former, it will chase the cat or the dog, and greatly tease the racoon or the fox. It follows the Astur Cooperii and the Goshawk, bidding them defiance, and few snakes come off with success when they attack its nest. It is remarkable also, that, although these birds have frequent and severe conflicts among themselves, yet when the least alarm is given by an individual, a whole party of them instantly rush forth to assist in chasing off the common enemy.”

Does that sound like a “lowly” or “undeserving” bird?

While I can appreciate a dedicated campaign by the poultry industry in this state to affect this kind of change for their own narrow economic reasons, it does not need to resort to the usual crass qualities and attacking tone of political campaigns. It’s also rather silly, since the state bird has more to do with the natural wildlife of a place than it does commerce.

Georgians should be honored to have such a unique bird as the Brown Thrasher as the symbol of their fair state. No other state can lay claim to this bird, while Rhode Island already has the Blue Hen Chicken as their official bird. Do Georgians really want to emulate the residents of Rhode Island?

Georgia doesn’t need a pedestrian, plain chicken as their state bird, they need the Brown Thrasher!


Seth Miller
Smyrna, GA

So, yeah, there’s that. A wonderful weekend of bird-watching and cataloging tempered with the harsh realities of a Monday Morning missive fired off from behind the safety of my keyboard.

I hope this week gets better and that you (and I) see more beautiful birds as we make our way towards Spring.

Happy Monday!


Jenn and I were a little bit late to the hummingbird game. We’ve had a feeder in the garage practically since we moved into the house in May, 2007 but we didn’t put/fill it up until the very end of Summer this year.

The first attempt was literally a mess.

We didn’t boil the water/sugar mixture.
We nearly lost several tiny, key components to the feeder (stopper, hook).
We (I) spilled some of the “nectar”.

All in all, not a fruitful first effort.

But over the last six weeks or so as the “season” for ruby-throated hummingbirds is waning and they all prepare for the long, southerly flight to warmer weather, we’ve had multiple visitors every day.

They seem to be most prominent early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
They always hang out in our weeping cherry tree before and after feeding.
They are extremely territorial, dive-bombing one another and any bug or bird that attempts to crowd their space.

Hummingbird chilling

Here’s my favorite photo of one grabbing a meal from a flower on a neighboring bush near our feeder:

Hummingbird Feeding

I was very inspired to snap some of my shots based on this Petapixel post. And while I didn’t go to the trouble of spending a weekend day parked in front of the feeder, I think the shots above show off the calm and busy states of the hummingbird perfectly.

I’ve also been inspired by the recent photography and sketches of Ben Prisk. Seems he’s had hummingbirds on the brain too.

And since I’m linking willy-nilly to any and all things hummingbird-related here’s Wilco’s “Hummingbird” an excellent track from “A Ghost is Born”:

The beginning of the above song make me think of the opening of Guster’s “Manifest Destiny”. Guster, you may or may not know, had and album, “Keep it Together”, whose art featured – you guessed it – a hummingbird.

I’m going to stop now before I hurt myself (or you).

If you’re curious to see some of my other backyard photography, have a look!

Happy Sunday Hummingbirding!