Marion Hammer shooting down kids' vote for state bird
For 72 years, Florida's state bird has been the feisty mockingbird, a gray-feathered mimic that is as likely to show up in a suburban back yard or a downtown park as in a forest or a swamp. But the mockingbird is also the state bird of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. So the state wildlife commission asked schoolchildren to pick a new state bird. More than 20,000 voted for the osprey, a raptor sometimes called the fish hawk.
The osprey "represents the thousands of miles of river ways, lake shores and coastlines that make Florida distinctive in the United States and where this regal bird makes its home," the staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wrote in a memo last month. However, past attempts at persuading the Legislature to change the state bird have failed. They were shot down by one very powerful, very determined lobbyist: Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association. And as far as she's concerned, this osprey idea just won't fly.