I hesitate to bring this up, because I know it will ruffle some feathers.
But it must be said: The black-capped chickadee, not the common loon, should be the Minnesota state bird.
I like the loon as much as you do. I’m excited every spring by reports the loon has returned to Minnesota. There’s nothing more mystically thrilling than listening to loons call across a northern Minnesota lake when one is camping or staying in a backwoods cabin.
Nor do I fault the loon for spending its winters in the South. They must go where there is open water. We understand this. We understand this just as we understand that some Minnesota residents must spend their winters in the South. If you have a weak constitution, you do what you must do.
But the state bird should be a full-time resident of the state. And no bird fits the bill better than the humble black-capped chickadee.
The chickadee not only spends the entire year in Minnesota, it never even changes its colors as many birds do. It hardly bothers to puff up its feathers to keep out the winter cold. A chickadee in July is no different than a chickadee in January.
Minnesota nice? That’s the chickadee. There’s seldom a conflict when you have a flock of chickadees at your feeders; they simply take turns.
Minnesota pluck? That’s the chickadee, too. In the deep midwinter, when it feels as if spring is nothing more than a fantasy, one suddenly hears a chickadee chirping its sunny "SPRING-time" song.
Minnesota fearlessness? Yep. Walk out to your feeders, and much bigger birds will scatter. The chickadees will go about their business. The only thing that makes them edgy is if you look directly at them. That’s Minnesota shyness.
Folks in the southern and western Minnesota prairies might never see a loon. Chickadees are everywhere, from Worthington to Grand Portage, from Moorhead to Lanesboro.
Loons? Love ’em. Can’t get enough of them. But no bird says Minnesota like the unassuming chickadee.