Published On: Fri, Nov 26th, 2021

FAU High School Student Working to Change Florida’s State Bird

FAU High School student Anya Cane thought the scrub-jay would make a much better state bird for our unique state and decided to act, launching a petition effort to do just that. Her effort led to legislation that is scheduled to be debated in the state legislature. The following are her responses to questions about her effort and motivations:  

FAU High School student Anya Cane

What interested you in this issue? 

  • I learned about the Florida scrub-jay while taking an online ornithology research class at Cornell University. The fact that it had Florida in its name caught my attention. I did some research and learned that the scrub-jay is the only bird endemic to Florida – meaning it lives its entire life in our fantastic state. I assumed that the Florida scrub-jay must have been our state bird and was surprised to learn the state bird of Florida was the northern mockingbird. I also found out that five states already have the northern mockingbird as their state bird. There are so many different birds in North America, yet five out of 50 states shared the same one? Considering this, the scrub-jay seemed like a great state bird, and I wanted to know if anyone tried to change the state bird to the scrub-jay in the past, and surprisingly some tried, yet it never got to that final stage. I decided I would try and make a change and with a lot of support, here we are.
The Florida scrub-jay

How did you feel when you found out your bill was filed?

  • I was in shock. I never could have dreamed of something like this at 14 years old.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the state legislative process?

  • The amount of work that goes into one bill surprises me, but it shows how important it is for the state. For my bill to make it to the senate on its own and not get instantly turned away surprised me since I didn’t think it would ever get this far.

On your petition website, I noticed one of the photos you use is from NASA. Have they or another large organization researched the scrub-jay?

  • NASA published multiple papers on the Florida scrub-jay and has invested in its protection. For example, “The Florida Scrub-Jay Compensation Plan” was created to protect the scrub-jay and its ecosystem. By putting in funds to rebuild habitats, and talk about the effects of climate change, NASA is helping to keep the Florida scrub-jay safe.

What is another native Florida animal that interests you and why?

  • The Florida bonneted bat. I’ve always loved bats since they are the only mammal with wings, and this species is also endemic to Florida.

Would you like to add anything else?

  • As a 14-year-old high school student, never in a million years did I think I could get this far in making change. If you want to speak up and make a change, do it! You never know how far you may truly get.

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