What Is the State Bird of Georgia?

E. Reeder
E. Reeder
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The state bird of Georgia, a southeastern state in the United States, is the brown thrasher. It was originally given this honor in the late 1920s but did not become the official state bird until 1970. These birds can be identified by their reddish-brown feathers and curved beak. Brown thrashers can be found not only in the Southeast, but also throughout the United States and into parts of Canada.

School-age children in Georgia selected the brown thrasher — scientific name Toxostoma rufum — as the state bird of Georgia in 1928. The idea subsequently was sponsored by the Atlanta Bird Club and similar organizations after being pushed by the Fifth District of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. After the idea gained momentum, it was proposed that the state legislature adopt the brown thrasher as the state bird, but the legislature didn't act. The brown thrasher was decreed the state bird in 1935 by Governor Eugene Talmadge. The idea of having the brown thrasher as the state bird of Georgia was then promoted much later by the Garden Clubs of Georgia and made official by the Georgia General Assembly, via Joint Resolution Number 128, in 1970.

As with many other species of birds, brown thrashers that live in Georgia have a set migratory pattern. In the summer months, they migrate to the Northern states before returning to spend the winter months in the Southern states. They live in the Southeastern, Northeastern and Midwestern states of the United States as well as in the Southern section of Canada. These birds are not found on the West Coast of the United States.

The brown thrasher female is smaller than the brown thrasher male. These birds often blend into their surroundings because of their coloring. They are considered to have one of the widest ranges of songs and sounds of any songbird in the United States.

The official state bird of Georgia has distinctive coloring. The upper parts of its body are a light to medium brownish-red, while the lower part of its body is yellowish-white. It has dark brown spots on its underside and breast. The face of the brown thrasher is gray, while its eyes are yellowish-brown. It has a bill that is long and curves downward, which helps it to hunt for and capture insects.

The scientific name Toxostoma rufum stems from the Greek words toxon, meaning “bow” and stoma, meaning “mouth.” This is a reference to the curved bill of the brown thrasher. The word rufum is Latin for “reddish,” a reference to the bird’s coloring.

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