All states have their official birds. Some cities also declare their official bird. For instance, Oakland has the night heron, while Rockford has the peregrine falcon.
However, what state’s capital has an official bird that is by definition not alive? That one-and-only city is Wisconsin’s capital – Madison – which claimed the plastic flamingo as its official bird.
The Plastic Flamingo as Madison’s Official Bird
Before anything else, it is important to establish that Wisconsin – the state itself – has its state bird: the American robin. The choice was made by schoolchildren in 1949.
A kind of similar event led to Madison having a non-living official bird, meaning students were also involved in the decision.
To elaborate, in 1979, a group of students orchestrated a prank that involved placing 1,008 plastic flamingos around the University of Wisconsin dean’s office. The prank left such a mark that a columnist lobbied for the toy birds to become the city’s symbol.
Eventually, in 2015 (36 years after the prank!), the city’s Common Council voted on the matter. With 15 votes in favor, the city declared the pink, plastic flamingos as one of the state capital symbols.
The quirky decision is not really out of the blue when one considers Madison’s other decisions. Indeed, the columnist who began the lobbying – Doug Moe – argued that if the state could have five official songs, then plastic flamingos could very well be its official bird!
However, it would be worth noting that there had been a few individuals who found the notion ridiculous. For example, four councilors voted against the proposal, with one saying that more important matters should be attended to.
Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is the answer to the question, “What state’s capital has an official bird that is by definition not alive?”. That is because, in 2015, its council voted on having the plastic flamingos as the city’s official bird.
The said move was in honor of a prank done by University of Wisconsin students in 1979. It reflects the city and its citizens’ good-humored nature.
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.