Our state bird is the mockingbird: It can sing more different tunes than Miley Cyrus, is a staunch defender of its nest and nestlings, and intelligent enough to recognize and remember individual people (maybe Joe Biden could learn that from one.) It is said that Thomas Jefferson kept one as a pet.
I originally disliked them and thought of them as a nuisance, and used to claim that they were made the state bird to keep people from killing them off.
Then I rescued a chick that had been blown out of a tree, along with its nest, and landed close to a fire ant bed. I hate fire ants and was not about to let them have that free meal, and took the bird in and raised it, feeding it berries, small mealy worms sold as bait, and later tiny grasshoppers I caught in the yard. I guess I imprinted on it, for it learned to fly over to me when it was hungry. It would also come to me when I whistled the iconic first 4 notes of Beethoven’s fifth! I guess it associated the notes with food.
With the grasshoppers, I went in stages: I first hand fed it one at a time; then put them into a cup, turned it sideways and let the bird crawl in after them; then would throw a hand full of the hoppers onto the lawn to stun them and let the bird learn to go after them. Soon it would go after them all on its own.
When I was sure it could feed itself, I put it up onto a branch of a pear tree in my back yard. For a few days it would fly over to me when I was out in the yard, then I was never sure I saw it again. I always hoped it wasn’t caught by one of the many cats or hawks we had in the neighborhood.
South Dakota’s ring necked pheasant is gorgeous especially in flight. You can hunt it as a bonus, well in certain states. Great tasting meat, tie fishing flies with the feathers, catch fish and have more protein to eat.
Coolest looking wild bird I ever saw in person was a small flock of yellow-tailed cedar waxwings that perched in a tree a few yards from me while I was up on my roof replacing a few damaged shingles.
They wear masks (don’t do social-distancing, though). Note pastel yellow on belly and brighter yellow at tip of tail. Look closely for the little spot of orange-red on the wings.
@Kyeh Dad lived in the Lark Bunting state for 78 years, hiking, fishing, hunting and spending lots of time in the wilderness. Told me he thought they were a myth as he never saw one. Told me they picked it because someone was pushing for the magpie as the state bird.
@carwinew That’s funny! I sure see plenty of obnoxious magpies around. They could have picked the Stellar’s Jay - those are kind of pushy but they’re neat looking and seen up in the mountains. Or the Redwing Blackbird, those are cool. @smyle You’re lucky!