Friday, January 25, 2008

Rhode Island Red Rant

She's doing it to annoy me. I know. Just to provoke me into a response. I shouldn't let her.

Oh well, what the hell? I just have to put her straight...

The famous sailing blogger, Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere, has written a post about the emblems and symbols of US states, The Official State... whatever, in which she pours scorn on the choice of Official State Bird by my recently adopted home state, The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Rhode Island has chosen an Official State Bird that I’m not sure should qualify – an Official State Bird should be wildlife rather than a domestic animal, a species rather than a subspecies or breed, and should encompass both genders. Much as I enjoy the high quality of egg it produces, the Rhode Island Red hen would be better named as Official State Poultry or Official State Domestic Animal. Somehow, I find it hard to imagine bird lovers with binoculars going to Rhode Island barnyards in search of a “find.”

How dare she? Who says that a state bird has to be a wild bird? We are Rhode Islanders. We can choose whatever bird we like. When Roger Williams fled from the repressive atmosphere fostered by the narrow-minded Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony (a.k.a. Red Sox Nation) his new settlement in Providence became the first organized colony in America to be founded on the principles of freedom of thought and worship.

Freedom Carol Anne. That means we have had the right since 1663 to be Quakers or Jews or Atheists... or even New York Yankee fans if we wish. And we certainly have the freedom to choose our own state bird.

And that's how it happened. In 1954, a state bird election was sponsored by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs, and the Providence Journal Company. The Rhode Island Red beat out its closest competitors, the osprey and ruby-throated hummingbird, and became Rhode Island's official state bird on May 3, 1954. So there.

And where does Carol Anne get the idea that our choice of the Rhode Island Red is some kind of feminist statement? She writes, "An official state bird should... encompass both genders." I'm not an expert on the birds and the bees but I'm pretty sure that you need a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Rhode Island Red hen to make little Rhode Island Red chicks.

Indeed you do, and here's a picture of a magnificent Rhode Island Red rooster to prove my point.

End of rant.

Actually Carol Anne also makes an excellent suggestion, to tell her about some of "the more interesting Official State thingummies" that we know about. Rhode Island certainly has some fascinating
Official State thingummies and I will write about them in another post soon.


Litoralis said...

I think Carol Anne should be prepared to defend New Mexico's lack of a state yacht.

Carol Anne said...

Actually, if you look at the list of state symbols, you will see that the RI Red hen is specifically named as the state bird. Given how handsome the rooster is, it's a shame to exclude him.

Of course, an Official State Yacht is a really cool thingummy.

Tillerman said...

You are right CA, in that I also found one website that refers to the RI Red "hen" as the state bird, but it's wrong.

The following information is excerpted from the Rhode Island General Laws, Title 42, Chapter 4, Section 42-4-5.

TITLE 41: State Affairs and Government.
CHAPTER 42-4: State Emblems.
SECTION 42-4-5.

§ 42-4-5 State bird. – The breed of fowl, commonly known as the "Rhode Island red," is designated, and shall be known, as the official state bird.

The rooster was never excluded!

Pat said...

Should the masthead of the official state yacht have a Rhode Island Red rooster windvane on top so it's clear that the rooster wasn't excluded?

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