Ruffling Georgian Feathers

Thursday, April 01, 2010

There's a movement in Georgia to replace the Brown Thrasher as Georgia's state bird. What would better represent the state? The Cornish chicken.

From what I understand, the Cornish chicken (Cornish Rock Cross) is the resident bird of just about every large-scale poultry operation because they reach their 'finish' weight in six weeks as compared to about four months for other breeds. Georgia grows and processes so many of these birds and it's such a huge industry that a restaurant owner from Augusta decided it would be the perfect choice.

The campaign is called 'Flip the Birds' and they have a petition drive. Their website is **hilarious** and serious.

I think changing the state bird of Georgia to the chicken is a fine idea, but I also like the idea of using the historical, one-of-many-variety yard bird that so many of our grandparents grew up with and raised in the yard, the pen, the coop for family sustenance.

Or maybe that's because I read Michael Pollan and Jonathan Safran Foer books. Anyway.

The website gives stats to elevate the state's status of the chicken, like:
Georgia is the fourth largest poultry producing region in the world, meaning If Georgia were a country, it would only rank behind the United States, China, and Brazil, respectively.

The poultry industry annually contributes over $15.1 billion to the Georgia economy, including farmers, processing, and allied industries. (Statewide economic impact of the industry is an estimated $13.5 billion annually - New Georgia Encyclopedia)

More than 47,000 Georgians are employed by the poultry industry directly.

The current state bird, the brown thrasher, has no contribution to the state of Georgia economy.

The campaign's videos are *so* funny. "...this ground dweller failed to contribute anything to our economy or our culture. It's migratory. That's right! Come winter, Georgia just isn't good enough for the Brown Thrasher!
Let's face it. The Brown Thrasher simply isn't good enough for Georgia!"

"The Cornish chicken. Noble fowl. Southern cultural icon..."

Of course, there are people who want to keep the Brown Thrasher as the state bird. The Georgia Conservancy is having its own petition drive, and has this on their website:

Big Chicken last week launched a broadside attack against the noble Brown Thrasher, the state bird of Georgia. A Georgia purveyor of chicken parts announced a drive to get the Georgia General Assembly to throw the Brown Thrasher out like a dishrag and replace it with a new state bird- the chicken! Yes, you read that right - it's the fried chicken, the broiled chicken, the barbecued chicken that we all love to eat.

Don't get us wrong. Georgians love our chicken at mealtime, but the idea of making the chicken our state bird crosses the line from sanity to insanity. The Georgia Conservancy will do everything in our power to make sure that such a travesty does not occur.

The AJC calls it "commerce versus conservation. White meat versus warblers." Can't wait to see how this turns out...

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